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PHILOSOPHY 


Metaphysics 

“This collection of Coomaraswamy’s essays gives us a view of his schol¬ 
arship and brilliant insight.”—Joseph Campbell 

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947) was a pioneer in Indian art 
history and in the cultural confrontation of East and West. A scholar in 
the tradition of the great Indian grammarians and philosophers^ an art 
historian convinced that the ultimate value of art transcends history, a so¬ 
cial thinker influenced by William Morris, Coomaraswamy was a unique 
figure whose works provide virtually a complete education in themselves. 
Finding a universal tradition in past cultures ranging from the Hellenic 
and Christian to the Indian, Islamic, and Chinese, he collated his ideas 
and symbols of ancient wisdom into the sometimes complex, always re 
warding pattern of these essays. Appearing in paperback for the first time, 
the essays in this selection were written while Coomaraswamy was cura¬ 
tor in the Department of Asiatic Art of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 
where he built the first large collection of Indian art in the United States. 

“There are many who consider Coomaraswamy as one ol the great sem¬ 
inal minds of this century. . . . This long-awaited selection of his papers 
. . . should go into every library.” Kathleen Raine, The Times (London) 

“These essays by Coomaraswamy are scholarly meditations. They in¬ 
tend to teach, to persuade. . . . To open them at random and just begin 
reading is to enjoy the freshness and power of the voice.” — Jonathan [. 
Goldberg, Quadrant 

Roger Lipsey is an independent scholar living in New York City and 
employed as senior writer for Arthur Young & Company. He edited 
Coomaraswamy’s Traditional Art and Symbolism (Princeton/BoIIingen 
Paperbacks) and wrote Coomaraswamy: His Life and Art (Princeton/Bol 
lingen Series). 

Princeton /Bollingen Paperbacks 


ISBN 



METAPHYSICS 

Coomaraswamy 

Edited by Roger Lipsey 


BOLLINGEN S E RI Es/PRIN CETON 






Coomaraswamy 

2: SELECTED PAPERS 

METAPHYSICS 

EDITED BY 

Roger Lipsey 



BOLLINGEN SERIES LXXXIX 
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS 






Editor’s Note 


Copyright © 1977 by Princeton University Press 

Published by Princeton University Press, 

Princeton, New Jersey 

In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, 
Guildford, Surrey 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

ISBN 0-691-09932-4 

ISBN 0-691-01873-1 (pbk.) 

First Princeton/Bollingen Paperback printing, 1987 

This Work is Volume 2 of a Three-Volume Work, 
the Eighty-Ninth in a Series Sponsored by 
Bollincen Foundation. Volume i is Traditional Art and 
Symbolism (ISBN 0-691-09885-9; ISBN 0-691-01869-3—pbk.) 
and Volume 3 is Hit Life and Work (ISBN 0-691-09931-6), 
by Roger Lipsey. 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data will 
be found on the last printed page of this book 

This book has been composed in Linotype Granjon 

Printed in the United States of America 
by Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 

Frontispiece photograph by Dona Luisa Coomaraswamy. 


The fifty-six essays in these volumes have been chosen from among many 
hundred. 1 Without exception, they were written in the period 1932-1947, 
corresponding to Coomaraswamy’s tenure as a Research Fellow at the 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a position that gave him time for the 
speculation and scriptural research to which he was particularly drawn in 
later years. These years were indisputably Coomaraswamy s high period, 
by which he must and would wish to be judged; his correspondence and 
conversation corroborate this point. Articles dealing with specific works 
of art have in general been excluded from these volumes because, al¬ 
though Coomaraswamy continued in this period to write detailed accounts 
of museum objects, his more characteristic work lay elsewhere. To the 
best of my knowledge, all the essays have been out of print for many 
years or were never previously published. After a gap of more than 
twenty-five years, it is a privilege to present the series of essays at 
the end of Volume 2 which, although unpublished in Coomaraswamy s 
lifetime, bear the stamp of finished work. Finally, regarding the selection, 
it must be mentioned that these volumes do not exhaust the reserve of 
essays of special merit. 

Coomaraswamy’s addenda to the essays have been a matter of interest 
to scholars and friends. He kept desk copies of his published works and 
added notes to them over the years, doubtless with a view to an edition 
of collected writings enriched by retrospective insight. After his death 
in the late summer of 1947, his widow, Dona Luisa (who had served for 
many years as his daily assistant), determined to incorporate these ad¬ 
denda into the essays. Inasmuch as her husband had already established 
a working relationship with Bollingen Foundation—he had, in particu¬ 
lar, aided Joseph Campbell in the preparation of several posthumous 

1 A bibliography of Coomaraswamy’s writings in the period 1900-1942 is pub¬ 
lished in Art Islamica IX (1942). Currently on press, A Working Bibliography of 
Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, ed. R. P. Coomaraswamy (London: Books From 
India, Ltd.), is considerably more complete and includes data on late and posthumous 
publications. Inasmuch as Mr. James Crouch (Melbourne, Australia) has well under¬ 
way an exhaustive new bibliography of Coomaraswamy’s writings, wc have decided 
against including a nominally complete bibliography in the Selected Papers. The 
first installment of Mr. Crouch’s work has already appeared: “Ananda Coomara¬ 
swamy in Ceylon: A Bibliography,” The Ceylon Journal of Social and Historical 
Sciences, N. S. Ill, No. 2 (1973). 54-66. 


EDITOR’S NOTE 


EDITOR’S NOTE 


publications of the great Indologist Heinrich Zimmer—Mrs. Coomara- 
swamy successfully applied for a Bollingen Fellowship to carry on this 
work. For many years, with the help of research assistants recruited from 
the Harvard University community, near which she lived, she transcribed 
and incorporated the addenda, meticulously verified references, and filled 
out bibliographical data where necessary. In due course the editors of 
Bollingen Series made a place in the program for a publication of se¬ 
lected writings. 

Mrs. Coomaraswamy’s death in 1971 left the project still incomplete 
and requiring redirection. Her patient work had brought many treasures 
to light from the mine of the addenda, but the time had come for re¬ 
fining and selection, a task which devotion to her late husband rendered 
unpleasant and perhaps impossible, rather as surgeons refuse to operate 
upon members of their own family. In reformulating the editorial task, 

I found it appropriate to include no addenda other than those which are 
genuinely finished paragraphs or clear references; with regret, I eschewed 
a great many addenda that cannot be taken to be more than raw ma¬ 
terial for revisions, tending to encumber the essays like barnacles rather 
than speed them on their way. This policy makes the essays less rich in 
addenda than was expected by scholars and friends close to the project. 
With few exceptions, addenda have been placed in footnotes, and in all 
cases they have been enclosed in brackets [ ] to distinguish them from 
the text as Coomaraswamy published it. (Editorial notes are also given 
in brackets, with the designation ed.) 

A list of abbreviations, short titles, and editions customarily used by 
Coomaraswamy is included in the front matter of each volume; readers 
will find this list indispensable at first but should gradually discover, as 
did Coomaraswamy, that the abbreviations are convenient and easily 
recalled. Coomaraswamy’s own writings are cited by title and date; fur¬ 
ther information is available in a short list of cited works at the front of 
each volume. Punctuation and spelling throughout the papers have been 
altered where necessary for the sake of uniformity. 

While preparing these papers for publication, editor and copy-editors 
alike have found occasional errors in the enormous mass of references 
made by Coomaraswamy to literary and scriptural tradition. Such errors 
as have escaped us will generally do no more harm to the reader than 
to lead him, for example, to a paragraph in Plato’s writings immediately 
adjacent to the passage that Coomaraswamy wished to cite. Coomara¬ 
swamy also, on occasion, refined the translation of passages in standard 


sources such as the Loeb Classical Library, but neglected to notify the 
reader of his interventions. Furthermore, he worked from memory more 
often than one might imagine. Called to the dock on this issue of ac¬ 
curacy by his friend Walter Shewring, Coomaraswamy replied in a 
letter: 

I am more than appreciative of your corrections. I can only say I am 
conscious of fault in these matters. It is no excuse to say that checking 
references and citations is to me a wearisome task. I am sometimes 
oppressed by the amount of work to be done, and try to do too much 
too fast. ... In certain cases I have not been able to see proofs. . . . 

One word about the errors. I would like to avoid them altogether, 
of course. But one cannot take part in the struggle for truth without 
getting hurt. There is a kind of “perfectionism” which leads some 
scholars to publish nothing, because they know that nothing can be 
perfect. I don’t respect this. Nor do I care for any aspersions that may 
reflect upon me personally. It is only “for the good of the work to 
be done” that one must be as careful as possible to protect oneself.... 

1 am so occupied with the task that I rarely have leisure to enjoy a 
moment of personal realisation. It is a sort of feeling that the harvest 
is ripe and the time is short. However, I am well aware that all 
haste is none the less an error. I expect to improve. 2 

Recognizing the existence of this problem from the very beginning of 
my work, and reflecting upon the example of Doha Luisa Coomara¬ 
swamy, who worked perhaps too many years to perfect in the letter texts 
that already approached perfection of spirit, I decided not to verify every 
reference but rather to let Coomaraswamy bear the responsibility for his 
occasional errors as he bears responsibility for his frequent grandeur. 

The Selected Papers of Amanda K. Coomaraswamy owes a great deal 
to its friends. Professional and moral support have been provided from 
the beginning by William McGuire and Carol Orr of Princeton Univer¬ 
sity Press. Herbert S. Bailey, Jr., the director of the Press, has been a per¬ 
sistent friend throughout the complex task. Ruth Spiegel did her initial 
copy-editing with extraordinary care. Wallace Brockway, Joseph 
Campbell, Mircea Eliade, I. B. Horner, and Stella Kramrisch have 

2 Letter to Walter Shewring, 4 March 1936, from the collection of Coomara- 
swamy's papers and books bequeathed to Bollingen Foundation by Dona Luisa 
Coomaraswamy and now in Princeton University Library. 


EDITOR’S NOTE 


all contributed their mature judgment regarding both selection and 
editing. Lynda Beck, Alice Levi, and Carole Radcliffe have been in¬ 
valuable research assistants. The Indologists Carole Meadow, Svatantra 
Kumar Pidara, and Kenneth J. Storey have reviewed Sanskrit and Pali, 
and Lois Hinckley, Kathleen Komar, and Pamela Long have helped 
with translations and various bibliographic problems. James Crouch and 
S. Durai Raja Singam have shared their extensive knowledge of 
Coomaraswamy’s writings. 

Preparation of the index required the help of many individuals: Ann 
Suter compiled the Greek index and also reviewed Greek in the essays; 
Kenneth J. Storey compiled the Sanskrit index; and a team of some twelve 
students in the University of Texas, Austin, joined me for the final stages 
of assembling the general index. I hesitate to list twelve names, but I 
want very much to thank these participants. 

Special acknowledgment must be made to Kurt Kleinman, who set the 
type for these volumes with such rigor and patience; he gives meaning to 
Coomaraswamy’s cherished aphorism: “Every man is a special kind of 
artist.” Eleanor Weisgerber and her staff in the proofroom of the Press 
completed an exceedingly difficult task as if it were all in a day's work. 
Margaret Case, who took over the task of copy-editing at an early stage, 
thereafter shared every problem as a colleague and friend. 

Dr. Rama P. Coomaraswamy and his wife, Bernadette, have helped in 
countless ways. 

R.L. 


Contents of Volume 2 


Editor’s Note v 

List of Abbreviations and Short Titles xi 

List of Works by A. K. Coomaraswamy Cited in These Volumes xxv 


Introductory Essays 

The Vedanta and Western Tradition 3 

Who Is “Satan” and Where Is “Hell”? 23 

Sr! Ramakrishna and Religious Tolerance 34 

The “E” at Delphi 43 

The Major Essays 

Recollection, Indian and Platonic 49 

On the One and Only Transmigrant 66 

Akjmcahha\ Self-Naughting 88 

Atmayajna\ Self-Sacrifice 107 

Lila 148 

Play and Seriousness 156 

Measures of Fire 159 

Vedic “Monotheism" 166 

Vedic Exemplarism 177 

The Vedic Doctrine of “Silence” 198 

Manas 209 

Kha and Other Words Denoting “Zero,” in Connection with the 
Indian Metaphysics of Space 220 

The Tantric Doctrine of Divine Biunity 231 

Two Passages in Dante’s Paradiso 241 

Nirufya — Hermeneia 256 

Some Pali Words 264 


Unpublished Works 


On the Indian and Traditional Psychology, or Rather Pneumatology 
Maha Purusa: “Supreme Identity” 

Bhakta Aspects of the Atman Doctrine 


333 

379 


387 


IX 


CONTENTS 


The Flood in Hindu Tradition 398 

Does “Socrates Is Old” Imply That “Socrates Is”? 408 

The Meaning of Death 426 

The Seventieth Birthday Address 433 

General Index 437 

Index of Greek Terms 455 

Index of Sanskrit and Pali Terms 458 


List of Abbreviations and 
Short Titles 


A 

AA 

AB 


Abhidharmakpsa 
Abhinaya Darpana 

Aeschylus, Fr. 

Ait. Up. 

Angelus Silesius 

Anugita 

Apuleius 

Aquinas 

Aristotle 


Arthasastra 


The Book, 0) the Gradual Sayings ( Anguttara-Ni- 
kdya), ed. F. L. Woodward and E. M. Hare, 5 
vols., London, 1932-1939 (PTS). 

Aitareya Aranyaka, ed. A. B. Keith, Oxford, 1909. 
(= Aitareya Brdhmana). Rigveda Brahmanas: 
The Aitareya and Kausitaki Brahmanas of the Rig¬ 
veda, cd. A. B. Keith, Cambridge, Mass., 1920 
(HOS XXV). 

L'Abhidharmukosa de Vasubandhu, tr. Louis de 
la Vallee-Poussin, 6 vols., Paris, 1923-193 1 . 

The Mirror of Gesture: Being the Abhinaya Dar¬ 
pana of Nandi\esvara, cd. A. K. Coomaraswamy, 
with Gopala Kristnaya Duggirala, Cambridge, 
Mass., 1917. 

In Nauck (sec below). 

( = Aitareya Upanisad). In The Thirteen Prin¬ 
cipal Upanishads, cd. R. E. Hume, 2nd cd., rev., 
London, 1931. 

(Johann Scheffler) Cherubinischer Wandersmann, 
new ed„ Munich, 1949. The Cherubinic Wanderer, 
selections tr. W. R. Trask, New York, 1953. 

The Bhagavadgitd, with the Sanatsugatiya , and the 
Anugita, ed. Kashinath Trimbak Telang, Oxford, 
1882 (SBE VIII). 

The Golden Ass, tr. W. Adlington, revised by S. 
Gasclee (LCL). 

1. Sancti Thomae Aquinatis, doctoris angelici, 
Opera omnia ad fdem optimarum editionum ac- 
curato recognita. 25 vols. Parma, 1852-1872. 

2. See also Sum. Theol. below. 

1. De anirna, tr. W. S. Hett (LCL). 

2. The Metaphysics, tr. Hugh Tredennick (LCL). 

3. The Nichomachean Ethics, tr. H. Rackham 
(LCL). 

4. The Physics, tr. Francis M. Cornford (LCL). 

5. The Poetics, tr. W. Hamilton Fyfe (LCL). 
KautHya’s Arthasastra, ed. R. Shamasastry, 2nd ed., 
Mysore, 1923. 

xi 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


Aryabhata 

‘Attar, Faridu’d-Din 


Atthasalini 

AV 

Avicenna 

Avencebrol 

BAHA 

Baudhayana Dh. Su 
BD 

BEFEO 

BG 

Boethius 

Bokhan 

BrSBh 

BSOS 


Aryabhatiya, tr. Walter Eugene Clark, Chicago, 
1930. 

1. Farid ud-Din Attar, The Conference of the 
Birds (Mantiq ut-Tair), tr. C. S. Nott from the 
French of Garvin de Tassy, London, 1954. 

2. Mantic Uttair, ou le langage des oiseaux, tr. 
Garvin de Tassy, Paris, 1863. 

3. Salaman and Absal, . . . with a Bird’s-Eye View 
of Farid-Uddin Attar's Bird-Parliament, by Ed¬ 
ward Fitzgerald, Boston, 1899. 

The Expositor (Atthasdlini): Buddhaghosa's Com¬ 
mentary on the Dhammasangani, ed. P. Maung Tin 
and C.A.F. Rhys Davids, 2 vols., London, 1920- 
1921 (PTS). 

1. Atharva Veda, ed. W. D. Whitney and C. R. 
Lanman, Cambridge, Mass., 1905 (HOS VII, 
VIII). 

2. The Hymns of the Atharva-Veda, ed. R.T.H. 
Griffith, 2 vols., 2nd ed., Benares, 1916-1917. 

Metaphysices compendium, Rome, 1926. 

(Solomon Ibn Gabirol) Fons Vitae, see Fountain 
of Life, tr. Alfred B. Jacob, Philadelphia, 1954. 
Bulletin de l'Office Internationale des Institute 
d'Archeologic et d'Histoire d'Art. 

Das Baudhayana-Dharmasiitra, ed. Eugen Hultzsch, 
Leipzig, 1922. 

The Brhad Devata of $auna\a, ed. A. A. Mac- 
donell, Cambridge, Mass., 1904 (HOS VI). 
Bulletin de I’Ecole Franqaise d'Extreme-Orient 
(Hanoi). 

The Bhagavad Gita, ed. Swami Nikhilananda, 
New York, 1944. 

The Theological Tractates and the Consolation of 
Philosophy, ed. H. F. Stewart and E. K. Rand 
(LCL). 

Muhammad ibn-Isma al-Bukhari. Arabica and 
Islamica, tr. V. Wayriffe, London, 1940. 

(= Brahma Sutra Bhasya) The VedantaSutras 
with the Commentary by Sankarakarya, ed. G. 
Thibaut, 2 vols., Oxford, 1890-1896 (SBE 34, 38). 

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African 
Studies 


BU 


Chuang-tzu 


Cicero 


Claudian, Slilicho 
Clement 


Cloud of Unknowing 


Coptic Gnostic 
Treatise 

CU 

D 

DA 


Damascene 

Dante 


( =Brhadaranya\a Vpanisad) In The Thirteen 
Principal Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., 
London, 1931. 

Chuang Tzu: Mystic, Moralist, and Social Re¬ 
former, ed. H. A. Giles, London, 1889. 

1. Academica, tr. H. Rackham (LCL). 

2. Brutus, tr. G. L. Hendrickson (LCL). 

3. De natura deorum, tr. H. Rackham (LCL). 

4. De officiis, tr. Walter Miller (LCL). 

5. Pro Publio Quinctio, tr. John Henry Freese 
(LCL). 

6. Tusculan Disputations, tr. J. E. King (LCL). 
On Stilicho’s Consulship, tr. Maurice Platnauer, 
London and Cambridge, Mass., 1956. 

1. Miscellanies, tr. F.J.A. Hart and J. B. Mayor, 
London, 1902. 

2. The Clementine Homilies , Ante-Nicene Chris¬ 
tian Library, vol. XVII, Edinburgh, 1870. 

A Boo!{ of Contemplation the Which is Called the 
Cloud of Unknowing in the Which a Soul is Oned 
with God, anon., ed. E. Underhill, London, 1912. 
A Coptic Gnostic Treatise Contained in the Codex 
Brucianus, ed. Charlotte A. Baynes, Cambridge, 
1933 - 

(— Chandogya Vpanisad) In The Thirteen Prin¬ 
cipal Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., Lon¬ 
don, 1931. 

(= Digha-Nikaya) Dialogues of the Buddha, ed. 
T. W. and C.A.F. Rhys Davids, 3 vols., London, 
1899-1921 (PTS). 

(— Digha-Nipaya Atthakatha) The Sumangala- 
vildsini: Buddhaghosa's Commentary on the Digha 
Ni\aya, ed. T. W. Rhys Davids and J. Estlin Car¬ 
penter (vol. I), and W. Stede (vols. II and III), 
London, 1886-1932 (PTS). 

St. John of Damascus. See Migne, PG, Vols. 94-96. 

1. Convito (1529); facsimile edition, Rome, 1932. 
Dante and his Convito: A Study with Transla¬ 
tions, W. M. Rossetti, London, 1910. 

2. Dantis Alighieri Epislolae: The Letters of Dante, 
ed. P. Toynbee, Oxford, 1966. 

3. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, tr. 
Charles Eliot Norton, 3 vols., Boston and New 


X1U 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


Dasarupa 

Dh 

DhA 

Dionysius 


Divyavadana 

Dpv 

Epiphanius 

Erigcna 

Euripides 

Garbha Up. 

Garuda Purana 

GB 

Grassmann 

Greek Anthology 
Harivamsa 


York, 1895-1897. (This is AKC’s preferred edi¬ 
tion, but he had a dictionary of Dante’s Italian 
and may have done translations on his own in 
addition to using Norton; he also used the Tem¬ 
ple Classics edition.) 

The ZW % 7 - a Treatise on Hindu Dramaturgy , 
tr. G.C.O. Haas, New York, 1912. 

The Dhammapada, ed. S. Radhakrishnan, London 
1950. 

(= Dhammapada Attha\athd) Dhammapada Com- 
(PTs 7’ Cd H ' C ’ N ° rman ’ 4 VOls ’’ , 9°6 - i 9'4 

1. De coelesti hierarchy see La Hierarchic celeste, 
ed. G. Heil and M. de Gandillac, Paris, 1958 
(Sources chretiennes LVIII). 

2. De divinis nominibus and De mystica thcologia, 
see I he Divine Names and The Mystical Theol¬ 
ogy, cd. C. E. Rolt, London, 1920. 

3. Epistles, see Saint Denys L’AriopagUe, Oeuvres, 
ed. Mgr. Darboy, Paris, 1932. 

Divyavadana, ed. E. B. Cowell and R. A. Neil 
Cambridge, 1886. 

Dipavamsa, cd. LI. Oldenberg, London, 1879. 

Epiphanius (Ancoratus und Panarion), ed. K, Holl, 
Leipzig, 1915-1933. 

John Scotus Erigcna. Sec Migne, PL, Vol. 122. 

1. Euripides, tr. A. S. Way (LCL). 

2. Fragments in Nauck. 

(= Garbha Upanisad) In Thirty Minor Upani- 
shads, tr. K. Narayanasvami, Madras, 1914. 

1. The Garuda Puranam, tr. M. N. Dutt, Calcutta 

1908. ’ 

2. The Garuda Purana, tr. Ernest Wood and S.U. 
Subrahmanyam, Allahabad, 1911 (SBH IX). 

Gopatha Brdhmana, ed. R. Mitra and H. Vidya- 
bushana, Calcutta, 1872 (Sanskrit only). 

LI. G. Grassmann, Worterbuch zum Rig-Veda, 
Leipzig, 1873 (cf. also Rig-Veda ; ubersetzt und 
mit /(raisehen und erlciuternden Anmerkungen ver¬ 
se hen, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1876-1877). 

The Gree\ Anthology, tr. W. R. p acon (LCL). 

Harivamsha, ed. M. N. Dutt, Calcutta, 1897 (prose 
English translation). 


xiv 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


Hamsa Up. 
Heracleitus, Fr. 


Hermes 


Hesiod 

Hippocrates 

HJAS 

Homer 

Homeric Hymns 
Horace 


Isa Up. 


Jacob Boehme 


(= Hamsa TJpanisad) In Thirty Minor Upani- 
shads, tr. K. Narayanasvami, Madras, 1914. 
Heracliti Ephesi Reliquiae, ed. Ingram Byvvater, 
Oxford, 1877 (see modern editions by G. S. Kirk 
and Philip Wheelwright; Coomaraswamy numbers 
Fragments according to By water). 

Hermetica: The Ancient Greek ar> d Latin Writings 
which Contain Religious or Philosophic Teachings 
Ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, ed. W. Scott, 
4 vols., 1924-1936. 

Theogony and Works and Days, tr. Hugh G. Eve¬ 
lyn-White (LCL). 

Works, tr. W.H.S. Jones (LCL). 

Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 

The Iliad and The Odyssey, tr. A. T. Murray 
(LCL). 

Homeric Hymns, tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White 
(LCL). 

Epistula ad Pisones (= Ars Poetica), tr. H. Rush- 
ton Fairdough (LCL). 

Harvard Oriental Series. 

Jahrbuch fiir prdhistorische und ethnographische 
Kunst. 

(=isd, or Uavasya, Upanisad) In The Thirteen 
Principal Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., 
London, 1931. 

(= Itivultaka) The Minor Anthologies of the Pali 
Canon, Part II: Udana: Verses of Uplift, and Iti- 
vuttaka: As It Was Said, ed. F. L. Woodward, 
London, 1935 (PTS). 

The Jataka, or Stories of the Buddhas Forma- 
Births, ed. E. B. Cowell, 6 vols., Cambridge, 1895— 
1907. 

1. Signatura rerum, see The Signature of All 
Things, and Other Writings, new ed., London, 
1969 (includes Of the Supersensual Life and 
The Way from Darkness to True Illumination). 

2. Six Theosophic Points, and Other Writings, 
ed. J. R. Earle, Ann Arbor, 1958. 

3. The Way to Christ, new ed., London, 1964. 
Lawd'ih, A Treatise on Sufism, ed. E. H. Whin- 
field and M. M. Kazvlnl, London, 1906. 

Journal of the American Oriental Society. 


xv 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


r - The Jaiminiya-Brdhmana of the Samveda, ed. 
R. Vira and L. Chandra, Nagpur, 1954 (San¬ 
skrit). 

2. Das Jaiminiya Brahmana in Auswahl, text and 
German translation by W. Caland, Amsterdam 
1919. 

J HS Journal of Hellenic Studies. 

,ISOA Journal of the Indian Society of Oriental Art 

Jan van Ruysbroeck The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage; The 
Sparkling Stone; The Book of Supreme Truth, tr. 
C. A. Wynschenk, ed. Evelyn Underhill, London 
1914. 

,RAS Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 

,UB (= Jaiminiya Upanisad Brahmana) The Jaiminiya 

or Talavakdra Upanisad Brahmana, cd. H. Ocrtel, 
Journal of the American Oriental Society, XVI 
(1896), 79-260. 

KaU? ' Up ’ (= Kausitaki Upanisad) In The Thirteen Princi¬ 

pal Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd cd., London, 

193 T 

KB Kausitaki Brahmana. Rigveda Brahmanas: The 

Aitareya and Kausitaki Brahmanas of the Rigveda, 

B ' Ke ‘ th ’ Cambrid 8 c - Mass., 1920 (HOS 

XXV). 

KenaUp - (=Kena Upanisad) In The Thirteen Principal 

Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., London, 
' 93 1 - 

KHA (= Khuddakapatha) The Minor Readings, The 

First Book of the Minor Collection ( Khuddakani- 
km), cd. Bhikkhu Nanamoli, London, i960 
(PTS). * 

Kindred Sayings See S 

KSS (— Kathd-Sarit-Sagara) Kathdsaritsagara , ed.' C. H. 

Tawney, Calcutta, 1880-1887; 2nd ed., 1924. 

KU *• (= Ka ? ha Upanisad) In The Thirteen Principal 

Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., London, 
I 93 I - 

2. Katha Upanisad, ed. Joseph N. Rawson, Oxford, 

1 934 - 

Lahta Vistara Lalita Vistara, ed. S. Lefmann, 2 vols., Halle, 1902- 

1908. 

Lankdvatdra Sutra Lankdvatdra Sutra, ed. Bunyiu Nanjio, Kyoto, 1923. 

UCL Loeb Classical Library. 

Luc,an De s y>a Dea, tr. A. M. Harmon (LCL). 


XVI 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


M 

Mahavamsa 
Mand. Up. 

Manti qu't-Tair 
Mdnasara 

Maiijusrimulakalpa 

Manu 

Marcus Aurelius 
Markandeya Parana 

Mathnawi 

Mbh 

Meister Eckhart 

MFA Bulletin 
Mhv 

Migne 

Mil 

Mimamsa Nyaya 
Prakasa 
MU 


(= Majfhima-Nikaya) The Middle Length Say¬ 
ings ( Majjhima-Nikaya ), ed. I. B. Horner, 3 vols., 
London, 1954-1959 (PTS). 

See Mhv. 

(=Mandukya Upanisad) In The Thirteen Prin¬ 
cipal Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed„ Lon¬ 
don, 1931. 

See ‘Attar, Faridu’d-Din. 

Architecture of Mdnasara, tr. Prasanna Kumar 
Acharya, London, 1933. 

Manjusri: An Imperial History of India in a San¬ 
skrit Text, ed. Ven. Rahula Sankrtyayana, Lahore, 
1934. 

(= Mdnava Dharmasastra) The Laws of Manu, 
ed. G. Buhler, Oxford, 1886 (SBE XXV). 

Marcus Aurelius, tr. C. R. Haines (LCL). 
Markandeya Parana, ed. J. Woodroffe, London, 
I9I3- 

The Mathnawi of falalu’ddin Rtimi, ed. R. A. 
Nicholson, 8 vols., Leiden and London, 1925-1940. 

1. Mahabharata. The Mahabharata of Krishna- 
Dwaipayana Vyasa, ed. P. C. Roy, Calcutta, 
1893-1894. 

2. Mahabharata, ed. Vishnu S. Sukthankar, Poona, 
1933- [24 vols. to date]. 

1. Meister Eckhart, ed. F. Pfeiffer, 4th ed., Got¬ 
tingen, 1924 (mediaeval German text). 

2. Meister Eckhart, ed. C. de B. Evans, 2 vols., 
London, 1924-1931 (English). 

Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

The Mahavamsa, or The Great Chronicle of Cey¬ 
lon, ed. W. Geiger, London, 1908 (PTS). 

Jacques Paul Migne, Patrologiae cursus completus 

1. \P. G.] Series Graeca, Paris, 1857-1866, i6r vols. 

2. [P. L.] Series Latina, Paris, 1844-1880, 221 vols. 
(= Milinda Panho) The Questions of King Milin- 
da, ed. T. W. Rhys Davids, 2 vols., Oxford, 1890 
(SBE XXXV, XXXVI). 

The Mimamsa Nyaya Praka'sa of Apadeva, ed. F. 
Edgerton, New Haven, 1929. 

({—Maitri Upanisad) In The Thirteen Principal 
Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., London, 
W- 


XVII 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


Mund. Up. 

Mv 

Narayana Up. 
Natya Sastra 
Nauck 
NIA 

Nicholas of Cusa 


Niru\ta 

Origcn 

Ovid 

OZ 

Paficadasi 

Paftcatantra 

Panini 

Parasara 

Pausanias 

PGS 

Philo 


(= Munda\a Upanisad) In The Thirteen Princi¬ 
pal Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., London, 
1:931, 

(— Mahdvagga) Vinaya Texts, ed. T. W. Rhys 
Davids and H. Oldenberg, 2 vols., Oxford, 1881- 
1882 (SBE XIII, XVII). 

(= Narayana Upanisad) In Thirty Minor Upani- 
shads, ed. K. N. Aiyar, Madras, 1914. 

The Natya Sdstra of Bharata, ed. M. Ramakrishna 
Kavi, Baroda, 1926 (Sanskrit). 

August Nauck, Tragicorum Graecorum Fragmen- 
ta, Leipzig, 1856. 

New Indian Antiquary. 

(= Nicolaus Cusanus) 

1. (De visione Dei) The Vision of God, ed. E. G. 
Salter, London, 1928. 

2. De filiatione Dei, in Schriften des Nicolaus von 
Cues, Leipzig, 1936-, Vol. II. 

The Nighantu and Nirukta of Yas\a, ed. L. Sarup, 
Oxford, 1921. 

Writings of Origen, tr. Frederick Cromble, 2 vols., 
Edinburgh, 1869. 

1. Fasti, tr. Sir James George Frazer (LCL). 

2. Metamorphoses, tr. Frank Justus Miller (LCL). 
Ostasiatische Zeitschrift. 

Panchadasi, A Poem on Vedanta Philosophy, ed. 

& tr. Arthur Venis, in Pandit, V-VIII (r 883-1886). 
The Panchatantra Reconstructed, cd. Franklin 
Edgerton, New Haven, 1924. American Oriental 
Series, III. 

The Ashtadhydyi of Panini, ed. S. C. Vasu, 8 vols., 
Allahabad, 1891-1898. 

The Parasara Dharma Samhitd, or, Parasara Smriti, 
ed. Pandit Vaman Sastrl Islamapurkar, 2 vols., 
Bombay, 1893-1906. 

Pausanias, tr. W.H.S. Jones (LCL). 

Pdraskara-grhya-sutras, tr. H. Oldenberg, Oxford 
1886. b 

1. Complete works published in LCL; Vols. I-X, 
ed. F. H. Colson; Supplements I, II, ed. R. Mar¬ 
cus. All works cited by full dtle with exception 
of: a) Act. (On the Eternity of the World , vol. 
IX); b) Congr. (On the Preliminary Studies, vol. 

xviii 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


Philostratus, 
Vit. Ap. 
Pindar 

Pistis Sophia 


Plato 

Plotinus 

Plutarch 

PMLA 
Prasna Up. 

Prema Sagara 
PTS 

Pythagoras 

PugA 


Purva Mimdmsd 
Sutras 
Quintilian 
Ramayana 

Rum!, Divan 

R V 

S 


IV); c) Deterius (The Worse Attacks the Better, 
vol. II); d) Heres. (Who is the Heir, vol. IV); 
e) Immut. (On the Unchangeableness of God, 
vol. III). 

Flavius Philostratus, The Life and Times of Apol¬ 
lonius of Tyana, tr. Charles P. Ellis, Stanford, 1923. 
The Odes of Pindar, tr. Richard Lattimore, Chi¬ 
cago, 1947. 

1. Pistis Sophia, A Gnostic Miscellany, ed. & tr. 
G.R.S. Mead, London, rev. ed., 1921; 1947. 

2. Pistis Sophia, ed. J. H. Petermann, Berlin, 1851. 
The Collected Dialogues of Plato, including the 
Letters, ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington 
Cairns, Princeton, 1961 (Bollingen Series LXXI). 
Plotinus, The Enneads, tr. Stephen MacKenna. 3rd 
ed. rev. by B. S. Page, London, 1962. 

1. Moralia, tr. Frank Cole Babbitt and others; in¬ 
cludes De genio Socratis (LCL). 

2. Pericles, in Lives, tr. Bernadottc Perrin (LCL). 
Publications of the Modern Language Association. 
(= Pralna Upanisad) In The Thirteen Principal 
Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., London, 
1931. 

Prema-Sagara, ed. and tr. Edward B. Eastwick, 
Westminster, 1897. 

Pali Text Society Translation Series. 

Golden Verses, see Les Vers d'or pylhagoriciens, 
ed. P. C. van der Horst, Leyden, 1932. 
Puggala-pahhatti-atthakatha, ed. G. Lansberg and 
C.A.F. Rhys Davids, London, 1914 (Pali). 

The Purva Mimdmsd Sutras of Jaimini, ed. M. 
Ganganatha Jha, Allahabad, 1916 (SBH X). 
Institutio Oratorio, tr. H. E. Butler (LCL). 

The Ramayana, ed. M. N. Dutt, Calcutta, 1891- 
1894. 

Selected Poems from the Dlvarii Shamsi Tabriz, 
ed. R. A. Nicholson, Cambridge, 1898. 

The Hymns of the Rgveda, ed. R.T.H. Griffith, 
2 vols., 4th ed., Benares, 1963. 

The Boo!{ of the Kindred Sayings (Samyutta-Ni- 
kaya), ed. C.A.F. Rhys Davids and F. L. Wood¬ 
ward, 5 vols., London, 1917-1930 (PTS). 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


SA 

Sa'di 

Sadva. Brahmana 

Sdhitya Darpana 

Sa\untala 

Sanatsujdtiya 

Satapatha Brahmana 
Sayana 

SB 

SBB 

SBE 

SBH 

Scott 

Sextus Empiricus 
Shams-i-Tabriz 
Siddhantamu\tavali 

Sikandar Nama 
Silparatna 

Sn 


Sdnkhayana Aranya\a, ed. A. B. Keith, London, 
1908. 

(Muslih-al-Dln) The Bustdn of Sadi, ed. A. H. Ed¬ 
wards, London, 1911. 

(= Sadvinsa Brahmana') Daivatabramhana and 
Shadbingshabramhana of the Samveda with the 
Commentary of Sayanacharya, ed. Pandit J. Vidy- 
asagara, Calcutta, 1881. 

The Mirror of Composition, A Treatise on Poetical 
Criticism, being an English Translation of the 
Sdhitya-Darpana of Viswanatha Kaviraja , ed. J. R. 
Ballantyne and P. D. Mitra, Calcutta, 1875 (re¬ 
printed, Benares, 1956). 

Abhipidna-Sakuntala of Kalidasa, ed. M. B. Eme- 
neau, Berkeley, 1962. 

The Bhagavadgita, with the Sanatsugdtiya, and the 
Anugitd, ed. K. T. Telang, Oxford, 1882 (SBE 
VIII). v 

See SB. 

Rg Veda Samhitd, with Sayana’s Commentary, ed. 
S. Pradhan, Calcutta, 1933. 

Satapatha Brahmana, ed. J. Eggeling, 5 vols., Ox¬ 
ford, 1882-1900 (SBE XII, XXVI, XLI, XLII, 
XLIV). 

The Sacred Books of the Buddhists, London. 

The Sacred Books of the East, Oxford. 

The Sacred Books of the Hindus, Allahabad. 

See Hermes. 

Sextus Empiricus, tr. R. G. Bury (LCL). 

See RumT, Divan. 

1. The Vedanta Siddhdntamu\tdvali of Pra\dsa- 
nanda, tr. Arthur Venis, in The Pandit, Benares, 
1890. 

2. Tr. J. R. Ballantyne, Calcutta, 1851. 

Nizam al-Din Abu Muhammad Nizami, Sikandar 
Nama e bara, tr. H. Wiiberforce, Clarke, London, 
1881. 

The Silparatna by Sri Kumara, ed. Mahamaho- 
padyaya T. Ganapati Sastri, Trivandrum, 1922- 
T 9 2 9 - 

The Sutta-Nipdta, ed. V. Fausboll, Oxford, 1881 
(SBE X). 


XX 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


SnA Sutta-Nipdta Atlhakatkd, ed. H. Smith, 2 vols., 

London, 1916-1917 (PTS). 

SP The Saddharma Pundarika, or the Lotus of the 

True Law, ed. H. Kern, Oxford, 1909 (SBE XXI). 

Sri Su\ta The Purusha Su\ta, Aiyar, Madras, 1898. 

St. Augustine 1. The City of God against the Pagans, tr. Wil¬ 

liam M. Green (LCL). 

2. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene 
Fathers of the Christian Church, ed. Philip 
Schaff, New York, 1886-1890, vols. I—VIII, Col¬ 
lected Works of St. Augustine (in English 
tr.). 

St. Bernard St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Opera omnia in Migne, 

Series latina, vols. 182-185 (1854-1855). 

St. Bonaventura 1. The Wor\s of Bonaventure, Cardinal, Seraphic 

Doctor, and Saint, tr. Jose de Vinck, Paterson, 
N.J., 1966- (in progress); Vol. Ill, Opuscula, 
Second Series, 1966, includes “On Retracing the 
Arts to Theology” (De reductione anium ad 
theologiam). 

2. Doctoris Seraphici S. Bonavenlurae S. R. E. Epis- 
copi Cardinalis opera omnia .... Florence, 1883- 
1902, 10 vols.; vols. I-IV, Sententiarum Petri 
Lombardi (abbreviated l Sent., etc.). 

St. Clement See Clement. 

St. Cyril of A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 

Jerusalem 2nd ser. ed. Philip Schalf and Henry Wacc, New 

York, 1894. Vol. VII. 

St. Jerome 5 . Eusebii Hieronymi opera omnia, in Migne, 

Series latina, vols. 22-30. 

St. John of the Cross The Complete Works of Saint fohn of the Cross, 

Doctor of the Church, ed. and tr. E. Allison Peers, 
Weathampstead, 1974. 

Sukhavati Vyuha Buddhist Texts from Japan, ed. F. Max Muller 

and Bunyiu Nanjic, Oxford, 1881 (Anecdota 
oxoniensia, Aryan Series I). 

Sukrariitisara The Sukraniti of Sukracarya, ed. B. K. Sarkar, 

Allahabad, 1914 (SBH XII). 

Sum. Theol. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas. 

Literally translated by Fathers of the English 
Dominican Province. London, 1913-1942, 22 vols. 
Also in Parma ed., 1864; see Aquinas. 


xxi 



ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


ABBREVIATIONS AND SHORT TITLES 


Suparnadhyaya 


Susruta 


Svdtma-niriipana 


Svet. Up. 


TA 


Taittirly a 
Pralisdkhya 

Tao Te Ching 

TB 


Tertullian 

Thcrigatha 

Theragdthu 


TS 

TU 

Ud 


UdA 


Die Suparnasage, ed. J. Charpentier, Uppsala, 
1922 (Sanskrit text, German translation, commen- 
tary). 

The Susruta-Samhita, tr. Udoy Chand Dutt and 
Aughorechunder Chattopadhya, 3 fasc., Calcutta, 
1883-1891. 

Select Wor\s of Sri San\aracharya, tr. S. Venkata- 
ramanan, Madras, 1911 (includes Svatma-niru- 
pana). 

(= Svetdsvatara Upanisad) In The Thirteen Prin¬ 
cipal Upamshads , ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., Lon¬ 
don, 1931. 

The Taittinya Aranyaka of the Black Yajur Veda 
{with the Commentary of Sayanacharya), cd. R. 
Mitra, Calcutta, 1872 (Sanskrit). 

The Taittinya Prdticdkhya, with its Commentary, 
the Tribhdshyaratna, ed. W. D. Whitney, I AOS 
IX (1871), 1-469. 

Arthur Waley, The Way and Its Power, London, 

1934 - 

The Taittinya Brdhmana of the Black Yajur Veda, 
with the Commentary of Sayana Archaryya, ed. R. 
Mitra, 3 vols., Calcutta, 1859-1890 (Sanskrit). 

The Writings of Q.S.F. Tertullianus, tr, S. Thel- 
wall, et al., 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1869-1870. 

1. Psalms of the Early Buddhists, I. Psalms of the 
Sisters, II. Psalms of the Brethren, tr. C. A. F. 
Rhys Davids, 4th ed., London, 1964 (PTS). 

2. The Thera- and Theri-gdthd, ed. H. Oldenburg, 
London, 1883 (PTS). 

Taittinya Samhild: The Veda of the Black. Yajur 
School, ed. A. B. Keith, Cambridge, Mass., 1014 
(HOS XVIII, XIX). 

(= Taittinya Upanisad) In The Thirteen Prin¬ 
cipal Upanishads, ed. R. E. Hume, 2nd ed., Lon¬ 
don, 1931. 

(= Uddna) The Minor Anthologies of the Pali 
Canon, Part II: Uddna: Verses of Uplift, and Iti- 
vuttaka: As It Was Said, ed. F. L. Woodward, 
London, 1948 (PTS). 

(= Uddna Attha\athd) Paramattha-Dipanl Udd- 
natthakatha (Uddna Commentary) of Dhamma- 
palacanya, ed. F. L. Woodward, London, T026 
(PTS). * 


Uvasaga Dasao 
VbhA 

Vi\ramorvasi 

Vin 

Vis 

Visnudharmottara 
Visnu Parana 

VS 

Witelo 

Xenophon 

ZDMG 

Zohar 


Uvasaga Dasao, ed. N. A. Gore, Poona, 1953. 

(:= Vibhanga Atthakatha) Buddhaghosa, Sam- 
moha-vinodani Abhidhamma-pitake Vibhangatta- 
katha, ed. A. P. Buddhadatta Thero, London, 1923 
(PTS) 

The Vikramorvasiya of Kalidasa, tr. and ed. Charu 
Deva Shastri, Lahore, 1929. 

(= Vinaya Pita\a) The Book °f l ^ e Discipline 
(Vinaya Pitaka), ed. I. B. Horner, 5 vols., London, 
1938-1952 (PTS). 

The Visuddhi Magga of Buddhaghosa, ed. C.A.F. 
Rhys Davids, London, 1920-1921 (PTS). 

The Vishnudharmottara, ed. S. Kramrisch, 2nd 
ed., Calcutta, 1928. 

The Vishnu Parana: A System of Hindu Mythol¬ 
ogy and Tradition, ed. H. H. Wilson, London, 
1864-1877. 

Vajasaneyi Samhita: The White Yajur Veda, ed. 
R.T.H. Griffith, 2nd cd., Benares, 1927. 

Clemens Bacumker, Witelo, ein Philosoph and 
Natarforscher des XIII. Jahrhunderts (with text of 
his Liber de intelligentiis), Munster, 1908. 

1. Memorabilia, tr. E. C. Marchant (LCL). 

2. Oeconomicus, tr. E. C. Marchant (LCL). 
Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenl'dndischen Gc- 
sellschaft. 

The Zohar, ed. H. Sperling and M, Simon, 5 vols., 
London, 1931-1934. 


XXII 



List of Works by A. K. Coomaraswamy 
Cited in These Volumes 


“Angel and Titan: An Essay in Vedic Ontology,” JAOS, LV (1935), 373 * 4 ‘ 9 - 

“Chaya,” JAOS, LV (1935), 278-83. 

The Darker Side of Dawn, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, XCIV 
(1935), 18 pp. 

“Dlpak Raga,” Yearbook, of Oriental Art and Culture, II (1924-1925), 29-30. 

“Early Indian Architecture: I. Cities and City Gates, etc.; II. Bodhigaras,” 
Eastern Art, II (1930), 208-35, 45 figs. “III. Palaces,” Eastern Art, III 
(1931), 181-217, 84 figs. 

“An Early Passage on Indian Painting,” Eastern Art, III (1931), 218-19. 

“Eckstein,” Speculum, XIV (1939), 66-72. 

Elements of Buddhist Iconography. Foreword by Walter E. Clark. Cambridge, 
Mass., 1935, 95 pp., 15 pis. 

Figures of Speech or Figures of Thought. London, 1946. 256 pp. 

“Gradation and Evolution: I,” Isis, XXXV (1944), 15-16. 

“Gradation and Evolution: II,” Isis, XXXVIII (1947), 87-94. 

Hinduism and Buddhism. New York, 1943, 86 pp. 

“The Iconography of Diirer's ‘Knots’ and Leonardo’s ‘Concatenation,’ ” Art 
Quarterly, VII (1944), 109-28, 18 figs. 

The Indian Craftsman. Foreword by C. R. Ashbec. London, 1909. 130 pp. 

Mediaeval Sinhalese Art. Broad Campden, 1908. 340 pp„ 55 pis. (425 copies). 

A New Approach to the Vedas: An Essay in Translation and Exegesis. Lon¬ 
don, 1933. 116 -f- ix pp. 

"Nirmana-kaya,” JRAS (1938), pp. 81-84. 

“A Note on the Asvamedha,” Archiv Onentalni, VII (1936), 306-17. 

“Notes on the Katha Upanisad,” NIA, I (1938), 43-56, 83-108, 199-213. 

“On Being in One’s Right Mind,” Review of Religion, VII (1942), 32-40. 

“The Pilgrim’s Way,” Journal of the Bihar and Orissa Research Society, XXIII 
(1937), 452-71. 

“Prana-citi,” JRAS (1943), pp. 105-109. 

“The Reinterpretation of Buddhism,” NIA, II (1939), 575 - 9 °- 

“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Indra and Namuci,” Speculum, XIX 
(1944), 104-25. 

“Some Sources of Buddhist Iconography,” in B. C. Law Volume, Poona, 
1945, pp. 469-76. 

Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power in the Indian Theory of Govern¬ 
ment. New Haven, 1942. 87 pp., 1 pi. 

“Spiritual Paternity and the ‘Puppet-Complex,’” Psychiatry, VIII (1945), 
287-97. 

“The Sun-kiss,” JAOS, LX (1940), 46-67. 

“The Symbolism of Archery,” Ars Islamica, X (1943), 104-19. 


XXV 


WORKS BY COOMARASWAMY 

“The Technique and Theory of Indian Painting,” Technical Studies, III 
( I 934 )> 59 " 8 9 . 2 fi g s - 

Time and Eternity. Artihus Asiae Monograph Series, suppl. no. 8, Ascona, 
Switzerland, 1947, 140 pp. 

The Transformation of Nature in Art. Cambridge, Mass., 1934 (2nd ed., 
I 935 ). 2 45 PP- 

“Usnisa and Chatra: Turban and Umbrella,” Poona Orientalist, III (1938), 
1-1 9 . 

Why Exhibit Works of Art? London, 1943, 148 pp. Reprinted under the title 
Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art, New York, 1956. 

“The Yaksa of the Vedas and Upanisads,” Quarterly Journal of the Mythic 
Society, XXVIII (1938), 231-40. 

Ya\sas [ 1 ], Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, LXXX:6 (1928), 43 pp., 
23 pis. 

Ya/^sas, II, Smithsonian Institution Publication 3059 (1931), 84 pp., 50 pis. 


XXVI 







The Vedanta and 
Western Tradition 


These are really the thoughts of all men in all ages and 
lands, they are not original with me, 

Walt Whitman 


I 

There have been teachers such as Orpheus, Hermes, Buddha, Lao-tzu 
and Christ, the historicity of whose human existence is doubtful, and to 
whom there may be accorded the higher dignity of a mythical reality. 
Sartkara, like Plotinus, Augustine, or Eckhart, was certainly a man among 
men, though we know comparatively little about his life. He was of 
south Indian Brahman birth, flourished in the first half of the ninth 
century a.d., and founded a monastic order which still survives. He became 
a samnydsin, or “truly poor man,” at the age of eight, as the disciple of a 
certain Govinda and of Govinda’s own teacher Gaudapada, the author of 
a treatise on the Upanisads in which their essential doctrine of the non¬ 
duality of the divine Being was set forth. Sapkara journeyed to Benares 
and wrote the famous commentary on the Brahma Sutra there in his 
twelfth year; the commentaries on the Upanisads and Bkagavad Gita 
were written later. Most of the great sage’s life was spent wandering about 
India, teaching and taking part in controversies. He is understood to have 
died between the ages of thirty and forty. Such wanderings and disputa¬ 
tions as his have always been characteristically Indian institutions; in his 
days, as now, Sanskrit was the lingua franca of learned men, just as for 
centuries Latin was the lingua franca of Western countries, and free pub¬ 
lic debate was so generally recognized that halls erected for the accom¬ 
modation of peripatetic teachers and disputants were at almost every court. 

The traditional metaphysics with which the name of Sankara is con- 

[Originally an address given before the Radcliffe College chapter of the Phi Beta 
Kappa Society, the text in its present form was published in The American Scholar, 
Vnl 0939)—ED-] 


3 



INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


nected is known either as the Vedanta, a term which occurs in the Upani¬ 
sads and means the “Vedas’ ends,” both as “latter part” and as “ultimate 
significance”; or as Atmavidya, the doctrine of the knowledge of the true 
“self” or “spiritual essence”; or as Advaita, “Nonduality,” a term which, 
while it denies duality, makes no affirmations about the nature of unity 
and must not be taken to imply anything like our monisms or pantheisms. 
A gnosis (jhdna) is taught in this metaphysics. 

Sankara was not in any sense the founder, discoverer, or promulgator 
of a new religion or philosophy; his great work as an expositor consisted 
in a demonstration of the unity and consistency of Vedic doctrine and in 
an explanation of its apparent contradictions by a correlation of different 
formulations with the points of view implied in them, in particular, and 
exactly as in European Scholasticism, he distinguished between the two 
complementary approaches to God, which are those of the affirmative 
and negative theology. In the way of affirmation, or relative knowledge, 
qualities arc predicated in the Supreme Identity by way of excellence, 
while in the way of negation all qualities are abstracted. The famous “No, 
no” of the Upanijads, which forms the basis of Sapkara’s method, as it 
did of the Buddha’s, depends upon a recognition of the truth—expressed 
by Dante among many others-that there are things which are beyond 
the reach of discursive thought and which cannot be understood except 
by denying things of them. 

Sankara’s style is one of great originality and power as well as subtlety. 

I shall cite from his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita a passage that 
has the further advantage of introducing us at once to the central prob¬ 
lem of the Vedanta—that of the discrimination of what is really, and not 
merely according to our way of thinking, “myself.” “How is it,” Sankara 
says, “that there are professors who like ordinary men maintain that I 
am so-and-so’ and ‘This is mine’? Listen: it is because their so-called learn¬ 
ing consists in thinking of the body as their ‘self.’” In the Commentary 
on the Brahma Sutra he enunciates in only four Sanskrit words what has 
remained in Indian metaphysics from first to last the consistent doctrme 
of the immanent Spirit within you as the only knower, agent, and trans¬ 
migrant. 

The metaphysical literature underlying Sankara’s expositions consists 
essentially of the Four Vedas together with the Brahmanas and their 
Upanisads, all regarded as revealed, eternal, datable (as to their recension, 
in any case) before 500 b.c., together with the Bhagavad Gita and Brahma 
Siitra (datable before the beginning of the Christian era). Of these books, 


4 


VEDANTA AND WESTERN TRADITION 

the Vedas are liturgical, the Brahmanas are explanatory of the ritual, and 
the Upanisads are devoted to the Brahma-doctrine or Theologia Mystica, 
which is taken for granted in the liturgy and ritual. The Brahma Sutra 
is a gready condensed compendium of Upanisad doctrine, and the Bhaga¬ 
vad Gita is an exposition adapted to the understanding of those whose 
primary business has to do with the active rather than the contemplative 
life. 

For many reasons, which I shall try to explain, it will be far more diffi¬ 
cult to expound the Vedanta than it would be to expound the personal 
views of a modern “thinker,” or even such a thinker as Plato or Aristotle. 
Neither the modem English vernacular nor modern philosophical or 
psychological jargon provides us with an adequate vocabulary, nor does 
modern education provide us with the ideological background which 
would be essential for easy communication. I shall have to make use of a 
purely symbolic, abstract, and technical language, as if I were speaking 
in terms of higher mathematics; you may recall that Emile Male speaks of 
Christian symbolism as a “calculus.” There is this advantage: the matter 
to be communicated and the symbols to be employed are no more pecul¬ 
iarly Indian than peculiarly Greek or Islamic, Egyptian or Christian. 

Metaphysics, in general, resorts to visual symbols (crosses and circles, for 
example) and above all to the symbolism of light and of the sun—than 
which, as Dante says, “no object of sense in the whole world is more 
worthy to be made a type of God.” But I shall also have to use such tech¬ 
nical terms as essence and substance, potentiality and act, spiration and 
despiration, exemplary likeness, aeviternity, form and accident. Metem¬ 
psychosis must be distinguished from transmigration and both from “re¬ 
incarnation.” We shall have to distinguish soul from spirit. Before we can 
know when, if ever, it is proper to render a given Sanskrit word by our 
word “soul” ( anima, psyche), we must have known in what manifold 
senses the word “soul” has been employed in the European tradition; what 
kind of souls can be “saved”; what kind of soul Christ requires us to 
“hate” if we would be his disciples; what kind of soul Eckhart refers to 
when he says that the soul must “put itself to death.” We must know 
what Philo means by the “soul of the soul”; and we must ask how we 
can think of animals as “soulless,” notwithstanding that the word “ani¬ 
mal” means quite literally “ensouled.” We must distinguish essence from 
existence. And I may have to coin such a word as “nowever” to express 
the full and original meanings of such words as “suddenly,” “immedi¬ 
ately” and “presently.” 


5 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


The sacred literature of India is available to most of us only in transla¬ 
tions made by scholars trained in linguistics rather than in metaphysics; 
and it has been expounded and explained—or as I should rather say, ex¬ 
plained away—mainly by scholars provided with the assumptions of the 
naturalist and anthropologist, scholars whose intellectual capacities have 
been so much inhibited by their own powers of observation that they can 
no longer distinguish the reality from the appearance, the Supernal Sun 
of metaphysics from the physical sun of their own experience. Apart from 
these, Indian literature has either been studied and explained by Christian 
propagandists whose main concern has been to demonstrate the falsity 
and absurdity of the doctrines involved, or by theosophists by whom the 
doctrines have been caricatured with the best intentions and perhaps even 
worse results. 

The educated man of today is, moreover, completely out of touch with 
those European modes of thought and those intellectual aspects of the 
Christian doctrine which are nearest those of the Vedic traditions. A 
knowledge of modern Christianity will be of little use because the funda¬ 
mental sentimentality of our times has diminished what was once an 
intellectual doctrine to a mere morality that can hardly be distinguished 
from a pragmatic humanism. A European can hardly be said to be ade¬ 
quately prepared for the study of the Vedanta unless he has acquired 
some knowledge and understanding of at least Plato, Philo, Hermes, 
Plotinus, the Gospels (especially John), Dionysius, and finally Eckhart 
who, with the possible exception of Dante, can be regarded from an In¬ 
dian point of view as the greatest of all Europeans. 

The Vedanta is not a “philosophy” in the current sense of the word, 
but only as the word is used in the phrase Philosophia Perennis, and only 
if we have in mind the Hermetic “philosophy” or that “Wisdom” by 
whom Boethius was consoled. Modern philosophies are closed systems, 
employing the method of dialectics, and taking for granted that opposites 
are mutually exclusive. In modern philosophy things are either so or not 
so; in eternal philosophy this depends upon our point of view. Meta¬ 
physics is not a system, but a consistent doctrine; it is not merely con¬ 
cerned with conditioned and quantitative experience, but with universal 
possibility. It therefore considers possibilities that may be neither pos¬ 
sibilities of manifestation nor in any sense formal, as well as ensembles of 
possibility that can be realized in a given world. The ultimate reality of 
metaphysics is a Supreme Identity in which the opposition of all con¬ 
traries, even of being and not-being, is resolved; its “worlds” and “gods” 


6 


VEDANTA AND WESTERN TRADITION 

are levels of reference and symbolic entities which are neither places nor 
individuals but states of being realizable within you. 

Philosophers have personal theories about the nature of the world; our 
“philosophical discipline” is primarily a study of the history of these 
opinions and of their historical connections. We encourage the budding 
philosopher to have opinions of his own on the chance that they may 
represent an improvement on previous theories. We do not envisage, as 
does the Philosophia Perennis, the possibility of knowing the Truth once 
and for all; still less do we set before us as our goal to become this truth. 

The metaphysical “philosophy” is called “perennial” because of its 
eternity, universality, and immutability; it is Augustine’s “Wisdom un¬ 
create, the same now as it ever was and ever will be”; the religion which, 
as he also says, only came to be called “Christianity” after the coming of 
Christ. What was revealed in the beginning contains implicitly the whole 
truth; and so long as the tradition is transmitted without deviation, so long, 
in other words, as the chain of teachers and disciples remains unbroken, 
neither inconsistency nor error is possible. On the other hand, an under¬ 
standing of the doctrine must be perpetually renewed; it is not a matter 
of words. That the doctrine has no history by no means excludes the pos¬ 
sibility, or even the necessity, for a perpetual explicitation of its formulae, 
an adaptation of the rites originally practiced, and an application of its 
principles to the arts and sciences. The more humanity declines from its 
first self-sufficiency, the more the necessity for such an application arises. 
Of these explicitations and adaptations a history is possible. Thus a dis¬ 
tinction is drawn between what was “heard” at the outset and what has 
been “remembered.” 

A deviation or heresy is only possible when the essential teaching has 
been in some respect misunderstood or perverted. To say, for example, 
that “I am a pantheist” is merely to confess that “I am not a metaphy¬ 
sician,” just as to say that “two and two make five” would be to confess 
“I am not a mathematician.” Within the tradition itself there cannot be 
any contradictory or mutually exclusive theories or dogmas. For example, 
what are called the “six systems of Indian philosophy” (a phrase in which 
only the words “six” and “Indian” are justified) are not mutually contra¬ 
dictory and exclusive theories. The so-called “systems” are no more or less 
orthodox than mathematics, chemistry, and botany which, though separate 
disciplines more or less scientific amongst themselves, are not anything 
but branches of one “science.” India, indeed, makes use of the term 
“branches” to denote what the Indologist misunderstands to be “sects.” It 


7 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


is precisely because there are no “sects” within the fold of Brahmanical 
orthodoxy that an intolerance in the European sense has been virtually 
unknown in Indian history—and for the same reason, it is just as easy for 
me to think in terms of the Hermetic philosophy as in terms of Vedanta. 
There must be “branches” because nothing can be known except in the 
mode of the knower; however strongly we may realize that all roads lead 
to one Sun, it is equally evident that each man must choose that road 
which starts from the point at which he finds himself at the moment of 
setting out. For the same reasons, Hinduism has never been a missionary 
faith. It may be true that the metaphysical tradition has been better and 
more fully preserved in India than in Europe. If so, it only means that the 
Christian can learn from the Vedanta how to understand his own “way” 
better. 

The philosopher expects to prove his points. For the metaphysician it 
suffices to show that a supposedly false doctrine involves a contradiction 
of first principles. For example, a philosopher who argues for an im¬ 
mortality of the soul endeavors to discover proofs of the survival of per¬ 
sonality; for the metaphysician it suffices to remember that “the first be¬ 
ginning must be the same as the last end”—from which it follows that a 
soul, understood to have been created in time, cannot but end in time. 
The metaphysician can no more be convinced by any so-called “proof of 
the survival of personality” than a physicist could be convinced of the 
possibility of a perpetual motion machine by any so-called proof. Further¬ 
more, metaphysics deals for the most part with matters which cannot be 
publicly proved, but can only be demonstrated, i.e., made intelligible by 
analogy, and which even when verified in personal experience can only be 
stated in terms of symbol and myth. At the same time, faith is made 
relatively easy by the infallible logic of the texts themselves—which is 
their beauty and their attractive power. Let us remember the Christian 
definition of faith: “assent to a credible proposition.” One must believe in 
order to understand, and understand in order to believe. These are not 
successive, however, but simultaneous acts of the mind. In other words, 
there can be no knowledge of anything to which the will refuses its con¬ 
sent, or love of anything that has not been known. 

Metaphysics differs still further from philosophy in having a purely 
practical purpose. It is no more a pursuit of truth for truth’s sake than are 
the related arts a pursuit of art for art’s sake, or related conduct the pur¬ 
suit of morality for the sake of morality. There is indeed a quest, but the 
seeker already knows, so far as this can be stated in words, what it is that 


8 


VEDANTA AND WESTERN TRADITION 

he is in search of; the quest is achieved only when he himself has become 
the object of his search. Neither verbal knowledge nor a merely formal 
assent nor impeccable conduct is of any more than indispensable disposi¬ 
tive value—means to an end. 

Taken in their materiality, as “literature,” the texts and symbols are in¬ 
evitably misunderstood by those who are not themselves in quest. Without 
exception, the metaphysical terms and symbols are the technical terms of 
the chase. They are never literary ornaments, and as Malinowski has so 
well said in another connection, “Technical language, in matters of practi¬ 
cal pursuit, acquires its meaning only through personal participation in 
this type of pursuit.” That is why, the Indian feels, the Vedantic texts 
have been only verbally and grammatically and never really understood by 
European scholars, whose methods of study are avowedly objective and 
noncommittal. The Vedanta can be known only to the extent that it has 
been lived. The Indian, therefore, cannot trust a teacher whose doctrine 
is not directly reflected in his very being. Here is something very far 
removed from the modern European concept of scholarship. 

We must add, for the sake of those who entertain romantic notions of 
the “mysterious East,” that the Vedanta has nothing to do with magic or 
with the exercise of occult powers. It is true that the efficacy of magical 
procedure and the actuality of occult powers are taken for granted in In¬ 
dia. But the magic is regarded as an applied science of the basest kind; 
and while occult powers, such as that of operation “at a distance,” are 
incidentally acquired in the course of contemplative practice, the use of 
them—unless under the most exceptional circumstances—is regarded as 
a dangerous deviation from the path. 

Nor is the Vedanta a kind of psychology or Yoga a sort of therapeutics 
except quite accidentally. Physical and moral health are prerequisites to 
spiritual progress. A psychological analysis is employed only to break 
down our fond belief in the unity and immateriality of the “soul,” and 
with a view to a better distinguishing of the spirit from what is not the 
spirit but only a temporary psycho-physical manifestation of one of the 
most limited of its modalities. Whoever, like Jung, insists upon trans¬ 
lating the essentials of Indian or Chinese metaphysics into a psychology 
is merely distorting the meaning of the texts. Modern psychology has, 
from an Indian point of view, about the same values that attach to spiritu¬ 
alism and magic and other “superstitions.” Finally, I must point out that 
the metaphysics, the Vedanta, is not a form of mysticism, except in the 
sense that with Dionysius we can speak of a Theologia Mystica. What is 


9 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


ordinarily meant by “mysticism” involves a passive receptivity—“we must 
be able to let things happen in the psyche” is Jung’s way of putting it 
(and in this statement he proclaims himself a “mystic”). But metaphysics 
repudiates the psyche altogether. The words of Christ, that “No man can 
be my disciple who hatcth not his own soul,” have been voiced again and 
again by every Indian guru; and so far from involving passivity, con¬ 
templative practice involves an activity that is commonly compared to 
the blazing of a fire at a temperature so high as to show neither flickering 
nor smoke. The pilgrim is called a “toiler,” and the characteristic refrain 
of the pilgrim song is “keep on going, keep on going.” The “Way” of the 
Vedantist is above all an activity. 

II 

The Vedanta takes for granted an omniscience independent of any 
source of knowledge external to itself, and a beatitude independent of 
any external source of pleasure. In saying “That art thou,” the Vedanta 
affirms that man is possessed of, and is himself, “that one thing which 
when it is known, all things are known” and “for the sake of which alone 
all things are dear.” It affirms that man is unaware of this hidden treasure 
within himself because he has inherited an ignorance that inheres in the 
very nature of the psycho-physical vehicle which he mistakenly identifies 
with himself. The purpose of all teaching is to dissipate this ignorance; 
when the darkness has been pierced nothing remains but the Gnosis of 
the Light. The technique of education is, therefore, always formally de¬ 
structive and iconoclastic; it is not the conveyance of information but the 
education of a latent knowledge. 

The “great dictum” of the Upanisads is, “That art thou.” “That” is 
here, of course, Atman or Spirit, Sanctus Spiritus, Greek pneuma, Arabic 
ruh, Hebrew ruah, Egyptian Amon , Chinese ch'i; Atman is spiritual es¬ 
sence, impartite whether transcendent or immanent; and however many 
and various the directions to which it may extend or from which it may 
withdraw, it is unmoved mover in both intransitive and transitive senses. 
It lends itself to all modalities of being but never itself becomes anyone 
or anything. That than which all else is a vexation—That art thou. “That,” 
in other words, is the Brahman, or God in the general sense of Logos or 
Being, considered as the universal source of all Being—expanding, mani¬ 
festing and productive, font of all things, all of which are “in” him as 


10 


VEDANTA AND WESTERN TRADITION 

the finite in the infinite, though not a “part” of him, since the infinite has 
no parts. 

For the most part, I shall use the word Atman hereafter. While this 
Atman, as that which blows and enlightens, is primarily “Spirit,” because 
it is this divine Eros that is the quickening essence in all things and thus 
their real being, the word Atman is also used reflexively to mean “self”— 
either “oneself” in whatever sense, however gross, the notion may be en¬ 
tertained, or with reference to the spiritual self or person (which is the 
only knowing subject and essence of all things, and must be distinguished 
from the affected and contingent “I” that is a compound of the body and 
of all that we mean by “soul” when we speak of a “psychology”). Two very 
different “selves” are thus involved, and it has been the custom of trans¬ 
lators, accordingly, to render Atman as “self,” printed either with a small 
or with a capital s according to the context. The same distinction is drawn, 
for example, by St. Bernard between what is my “property” ( proprium ) 
and what is my very being (esse). An alternative Indian formulation dis¬ 
tinguishes the “knower of the field”—viz. the Spirit as the only knowing 
subject in all things and the same in all—from the “field,” or body-and- 
soul as defined above (taken together with the pastures of the senses and 
embracing therefore all things that can be considered objectively). The 
Atman or Brahman itself cannot be thus considered: “How couldst thou 
know the knower of knowing?”—or in other words, how can the first 
cause of all things be one of them ? 

The Atman is impartite, but it is apparently divided and identified into 
variety by the differing forms of its vehicles, mouse or man, just as space 
within a jar is apparently signate and distinguishable from space without 
it. In this sense it can be said that “he is one as he is in himself but many 
as he is in his children,” and that “participating himself, he fills these 
worlds.” But this is only in the sense that light fills space while it remains 
itself without discontinuity; the distinction of things from one another 
thus depending not on differences in the light but on differences in re¬ 
flecting power. When the jar is shattered, when the vessel of life is un¬ 
made, we realize that what was apparently delimited had no boundaries 
and that “life” was a meaning not to be confused with “living.” To say 
that the Atman is thus at once participated and impartible, “undivided 
amongst divided things,” without local position and at the same time 
everywhere, is another way of stating what we are more familiar with as 
the doctrine of Total Presence. 


11 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


At the same time, every one o£ these apparent definitions of the Spirit 
represents the actuality in time of one of its indefinitely numerous pos¬ 
sibilities of formal manifestation. The existence of the apparition begins 
at birth and ends at death; it can never be repeated. Nothing of Sankara 
survives but a bequest. Therefore though we can speak of him as still a 
living power in the world, the man has become a memory. On the other 
hand, for the gnostic Spirit, the Knower of the field, the Knower of all 
births, there can never at any time cease to be an immediate knowledge 
of each and every one of its modalities, a knowledge without before or 
after (relative to the appearance or disappearance of Sankara from the 
field of our experience). It follows that where knowledge and being, na¬ 
ture and essence are one and the same, Sankara’s being has no beginning 
and can never cease. In other words, there is a sense in which we can 
properly speak of “my spirit” and “my person” as well as of “the Spirit” 
and “the Person,” notwithstanding that Spirit and Person are a perfectly 
simple substance without composition. I shall return to the meaning of 
“immortality” later, but for the present I want to use what has just been 
said to explain what was meant by a nonsectarian distinction of points 
of view. For, whereas the Western student of “philosophy” thinks of Sam- 
khya and Vedanta as two incompatible "systems,” because the former is 
concerned with the liberation of a plurality of Persons and the latter with 
the liberty of an inconnumerable Person, no such antinomy is apparent 
to the Hindu. This can be explained by pointing out that in the Christian 
texts, “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus” and “Whoever is joined unto the 
Lord is one spirit,” the plurals “ye” and “whoever” represent the Samkhya 
and the singular “one” the Vedanta point of view. 

The validity of our consciousness of being, apart from any question of 
being So-and-so by name or by registrable characters, is accordingly taken 
for granted. This must not be confused with the argument, “Cogito ergo 
sum.” That “I” feel or “I” think is no proof that “I” am; for we can say 
with the Vedantist and Buddhist that this is merely a conceit, that “feel¬ 
ings are felt” and “thoughts are thought,” and that all this is a part of the 
“field” of which the spirit is the surveyor, just as we look at a picture 
which is in one sense a part of us though we are not in any sense a part of 
it. The question is posed accordingly: “Who art thou?” “What is that self 
to which we should resort?” We recognize that “self” can have more than 
one meaning when we speak of an “internal conflict”; when we say that 
“the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”; or when we say, with the 
Bhagavad Gita, that “the Spirit is at war with whatever is not the Spirit.” 


12 


VEDANTA AND WESTERN TRADITION 

Am “I” the spirit or the flesh? (We must always remember that in 
metaphysics the “flesh” includes all the aesthetic and recognitive faculties 
of the “soul.”) We may be asked to consider our reflection in a mirror, 
and may understand that there we see “ourself”; if we are somewhat less 
naive, we may be asked to consider the image of the psyche as reflected 
in the mirror of the mind and may understand that this is what “I” am; or 
if still better advised, we may come to understand that we are none of 
these things—that they exist because we are, rather than that we exist 
inasmuch as they are. The Vedanta affirms that “I” in my essence am as 
little, or only as much, affected by all these things as an author-playwright 
is affected by the sight of what is suffered or enjoyed by those who move 
on the stage—the stage, in this case, of “life” (in other words, the “field” 
or “pasture” as distinguished from its aquiline surveyor, the Universal 
Man). The whole problem of man’s last end, liberation, beatitude, or deifi¬ 
cation is accordingly one of finding “oneself” no longer in “this man” but 
in the Universal Man, the forma humanitatis, who is independent of all 
orders of time and has neither beginning nor end. 

Conceive that the “field” is the round or circus of the world, that the 
throne of the Spectator, the Universal Man, is central and elevated, and 
that his aquiline glance at all times embraces the whole of the field (equally 
before and after the enactment of any particular event) in such a manner 
that from his point of view all events are always going on. We are to 
transfer our consciousness of being, from our position in the field where 
the games are going on, to the pavilion in which the Spectator, on whom 
the whole performance depends, is seated at ease. 

Conceive that the right lines of vision by which the Spectator is linked 
to each separated performer, and along which each performer might look 
upward (inward) to the Spectator if only his powers of vision sufficed, are 
lines of force, or the strings by which the puppet-master moves the puppets 
for himself (who is the whole audience). Each of the performing puppets 
is convinced of its own independent existence and of itself as one amongst 
others, which it sees in its own immediate environment and which it 
distinguishes by name, appearance, and behavior. The Spectator does not, 
and cannot, see the performers as they see themselves, imperfectly, but he 
knows the being of each one of them as it really is—that is to say, not merely 
as effective in a given local position, but simultaneously at every point 
along the line of visual force by which the puppet is connected with him¬ 
self, and primarily at that point at which all lines converge and where the 


13 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


being of all things coincides with being in itself. There the being of the 
puppet subsists as an eternal reason in the eternal intellect—otherwise 
called the Supernal Sun, the Light of lights, Spirit and Truth. 

Suppose now that the Spectator goes to sleep: when he closes his eyes 
the universe disappears, to reappear only when he opens them again. The 
opening of eyes (“Let there be light’’) is called in religion the act of crea¬ 
tion, but in metaphysics it is called manifestation, utterance, or spiration 
(to shine, to utter, and to blow being one and the same thing in divinis ); 
the closing of eyes is called in religion the “end of the world,” but in meta¬ 
physics it is called concealment, silence, or despiration. For us, then, there 
is an alternation or evolution and involution. But for the central Spectator 
there is no succession of events. He is always awake and always asleep; 
unlike the sailor who sometimes sits and thinks and sometimes does not 
think, our Spectator sits and thinks, and does not think, nowever. 

A picture has been drawn of the cosmos and its overseeing “Eye.” I have 
only omitted to say that the field is divided by concentric fences which 
may conveniently, although not necessarily, be thought of as twenty-one 
in number. The Spectator is thus at the twenty-first remove from the outer¬ 
most fence by which our present environment is defined. Each player’s or 
groundling’s performance is confined to the possibilities that are repre¬ 
sented by the space between two fences. There he is born and there he 
dies. Let us consider this born being, So-and-so, as he is in himself and 
as he believes himself to be—“an animal, reasoning and mortal; that I 
know, and that I confess myself to be,” as Boethius expresses it. So-and-so 
does not conceive that he can move to and fro in time as he will, but knows 
that he is getting older every day, whether he likes it or not. On the other 
hand, he does conceive that in some other respects he can do what he 
likes, so far as this is not prevented by his environment—for example, by 
a stone wall, or a policeman, or contemporary mores. He does not realize 
that this environment of which he is a part, and from which he cannot 
except himself, is a causally determined environment; that it does what 
it does because of what has been done. He does not realize that he is what 
he is and does what he does because others before him have been what 
they were and have done what they did, and all this without any con¬ 
ceivable beginning. He is quite literally a creature of circumstances, an 
automaton, whose behavior could have been foreseen and wholly explained 
by an adequate knowledge of past causes, now represented by the nature 
of things—his own nature included. This is the well-known doctrine of 
\arma , a doctrine of inherent fatality, which is stated as follows by the 


14 


VEDANTA AND WESTERN TRADITION 

Bhagavad Gita, xvm.20, “Bound by the working {karma) of a nature 
that is born in thee and is thine own, even that which thou desirest not to 
do thou doest willy-nilly.” So-and-so is nothing but one link in a causal 
chain of which we cannot imagine a beginning or an end. There is nothing 
here that the most pronounced determinist can disagree with. The meta¬ 
physician—who is not, like the determinist, a “nothing-morist” {nastil{a) 
—merely points out at this stage that only the working of life, the manner 
of its perpetuation, can thus be causally explained; that the existence of 
a chain of causes presumes the logically prior possibility of this existence— 
in other words, presumes a first cause which cannot be thought of as one 
amongst other mediate causes, whether in place or time. 

To return to our automaton, let us consider what takes place at its death. 
The composite being is unmade into the cosmos; there is nothing whatever 
that can survive as a consciousness of being So-and-so. The elements of the 
psycho-physical entity are broken up and handed on to others as a be¬ 
quest. This is, indeed, a process that has been going on throughout our 
So-and-so’s life, and one that can be most clearly followed in propagation, 
repeatedly described in the Indian tradition as the “rebirth of the father 
in and as the son.” So-and-so lives in his direct and indirect descendants. 
This is the so-called Indian doctrine of “reincarnation”; it is the same as 
the Greek doctrine of metasomatosis and metempsychosis; it is the Chris¬ 
tian doctrine of our preexistence in Adam “according to bodily substance 
and seminal virtue”; and it is the modern doctrine of the “recurrence of an¬ 
cestral characters.” Only the fact of such a transmission of psycho-physical 
characters can make intelligible what is called in religion our inheritance of 
original sin, in metaphysics our inheritance of ignorance, and by the philos¬ 
opher our congenital capacity for knowing in terms of subject and object. 
It is only when we are convinced that nothing happens by chance that the 
idea of a Providence becomes intelligible. 

Need I say that this is not a doctrine of reincarnation ? Need I say that 
no doctrine of reincarnation, according to which the very being and person 
of a man who has once lived on earth and is now deceased will be reborn 
of another terrestrial mother, has ever been taught in India, even in Bud¬ 
dhism—or for that matter in the Neoplatonic or any other orthodox tradi¬ 
tion? As definitely in the Brahmanas as in the Old Testament, it is stated 
that those who have once departed from this world have departed forever, 
and are not to be seen again amongst the living. From the Indian as from 
the Platonic point of view, all change is a dying. We die and are reborn 
daily and hourly, and death “when the time comes” is only a special case. 


15 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


VEDANTA AND WESTERN TRADITION 


I do not say that a belief in reincarnation has never been entertained in 
India. I do say that such a belief can only have resulted from a popular 
misinterpretation of the symbolic language of the texts; that the belief 
of modern scholars and theosophists is the result of an equally naive and 
uninformed interpretation of texts, If you ask how such a mistake could 
have arisen I shall ask you to consider the following statements of Saints 
Augustine and Thomas Aquinas: that we were in Adam “according to 
bodily substance and seminal virtue”; “the human body preexisted in the 
previous works in their causal virtues”; “God does not govern the world 
directly, but also by means of mediate causes, and were this not so, the 
world would have been deprived of the perfection of causality”; “As a 
mother is pregnant with the unborn offspring, so the world itself is preg¬ 
nant with the causes of unborn things”; “Fate lies in the created causes 
themselves.” If these had been texts extracted from the Upanisads or 
Buddhism, would you not have seen in them not merely what is really 
there, the doctrine of {arma , but also a doctrine of “reincarnation”? 

By “reincarnation” we mean a rebirth here of the very being and person 
of the deceased. We affirm that this is an impossibility, for good and suffi¬ 
cient metaphysical reasons. The main consideration is this: that inasmuch 
as the cosmos embraces an indefinite range of possibilities, all of which 
must be realized in an equally indefinite duration, the present universe will 
have run its course when all its potentialities have been reduced to act— 
just as each human life has run its course when all its possibilities have 
been exhausted. The end of an aeviternity will have been reached without 
any room for any repetition of events or any recurrence of past conditions. 
Temporal succession implies a succession of different things. History re¬ 
peats itself in types, but cannot repeat itself in any particular. We can speak 
of a “migration” of “genes” and call this a rebirth of types, but this re¬ 
incarnation of So-and-so’s character must be distinguished from the 
“transmigration” of So-and-so’s veritable person. 

Such are the life and death of the reasoning and mortal animal So-and- 
so. But when Boethius confesses that he is just this animal. Wisdom re¬ 
plies that this man, So-and-so, has forgotten who he is. It is at this point 
that we part company with the “nothing-morist,” or “materialist” and 
“sentimentalist” (I bracket these two words because “matter” is what is 
“sensed”). Bear in mind the Christian definition of man as “body, soul 
and spirit.” The Vedanta asserts that the only veritable being of the man 
is spiritual, and that this being of his is not “in” So-and-so or in any “part” 
of him but is only reflected in him. It asserts, in other words, that this 
being is not in the plane of or in any way limited by So-and-so’s field, but 


extends from this field to its center, regardless of the fences that it pene¬ 
trates. What takes place at death, then, over and above the unmaking of 
So-and-so, is a withdrawal of the spirit from the phenomenal vehicle of 
which it had been the “life.” We speak, accordingly, with strictest ac¬ 
curacy when we refer to death as a “giving up of the ghost” or say that 
So-and-so “expires.” I need, I feel sure, remind you only in parenthesis 
that this “ghost” is not a spirit in the Spiritualist’s sense, not a “surviving 
personality,” but a purely intellectual principle such as ideas are made of; 
“ghost” is “spirit” in the sense that the Holy Ghost is Sanctus Spiritus. So 
then, at death, the dust returns to dust and the spirit to its source. 

It follows that the death of So-and-so involves two possibilities, which 
are approximately those implied by the familiar expressions “saved” or 
“lost.” Either So-and-so’s consciousness of being has been self-centered and 
must perish with himself, or it has been centered in the spirit and departs 
with it. It is the spirit, as the Vedantic texts express it, that “remains over” 
when body and soul are unmade. We begin to see now what is meant by 
the great commandment, “Know thyself.” Supposing that our conscious¬ 
ness of being has been centered in the spirit, we can say that the more 
completely we have already “become what we are,” or “awakened,” before 
the dissolution of the body, the nearer to the center of the field will be 
our next appearance or “rebirth.” Our consciousness of being goes nowhere 
at death where it is not already. 

Later on we shall consider the case of one whose consciousness of being 
has already awakened beyond the last of our twenty-one fences or levels 
of reference and for whom there remains only a twenty-second passage. 
For the present let us consider only the first step. If we have taken this step 
before we die—if we have been to some degree living “in the spirit” and 
not merely as reasoning animals—we shall, when the body and soul are 
unmade into the cosmos, have crossed over the first of the fences or circum¬ 
ferences that lie between ourselves and the central Spectator of all things, 
the Supernal Sun, Spirit and Truth. We shall have come into being in a 
new environment where, for example, there may still be a duration but 
not in our present sense a passage of time. We shall not have taken with 
us any of the psycho-physical apparatus in which a sensitive memory 
could inhere. Only the “intellectual virtues” survive. This is not the sur¬ 
vival of a “personality” (that was a property bequeathed when we de¬ 
parted); it is the continued being of the very person of So-and-so, no 
longer encumbered by the grossest of So-and-so’s former definitions. We 
shall have crossed over without interruption of consciousness of being. 

In this way, by a succession of deaths and rebirths, all of the fences may 


16 


17 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


be crossed. The pathway that we follow will be that of the spiritual ray 
or radius that links us with the central Sun. It is the only bridge that 
spans the river of life dividing the hither from the farther shore. The word 
“bridge” is used advisedly, for this is the “causeway sharper than a razor’s 
edge,” the Cinvat bridge of the Avesta, the “brig of dread,” familiar to 
the folklorist, which none but a solar hero can pass; it is a far-flung bridge 
of light and consubstantial with its source. The Veda expresses it “Him¬ 
self the Bridge”—a description corresponding to the Christian “I am the 
Way.” You will have divined already that the passage of this bridge con¬ 
stitutes, by stages that are defined by its points of intersection with our 
twenty-one circumferences, what is properly called a transmigration or 
progressive regeneration. Every step of this way has been marked by a 
death to a former “self” and a consequent and immediate “rebirth” as 
“another man.” I must interpolate here that this exposition has inevitably 
been oversimplified. Two directions of motion, one circumferential and 
determinate, the other centripetal and free, have been distinguished; but 
I have not made it clear that their resultant can be properly indicated 
only by a spiral. 

But the time has come to break down the spatial and temporal ma¬ 
terialism of our picture of the cosmos and of man’s pilgrimage from its 
circumference to its center and heart. All of the states of being, all of the 
So-and-sos that we have thought of as coming into being on superimposed 
levels of reference, are within you, awaiting recognition: all of the deaths 
and rebirths involved are supernatural—that is, not “against Nature” but 
extrinsic to the particular possibilities of the given state of being from 
which the transmigration is thought of as taking place. Nor is any time 
element involved. Rather, since temporal vicissitudes play no part in the 
life of the spirit, the journey can be made in part or in its entirety, whether 
before the event of natural death, at death, or thereafter. The Spectator’s 
pavilion is the Kingdom of Heaven that is within you, viz. in the “heart” 
(in all Oriental and ancient traditions not only the seat of the will but of 
the pure intellect, the place where the marriage of Heaven and Earth is 
consummated); it is there only that the Spectator can himself be seen by 
the contemplative—whose glance is inverted, and who thus retraces the 
path of the Ray that links the eye without to the Eye within, the breath of 
life with the Gale of the Spirit. 

We can now, perhaps, better understand all that is meant by the poign¬ 
ant words of the Vedic requiem, “The Sun receive thine eye, the Gale 
thy spirit,” and can recognize their equivalent in “Into thy hands I com- 


18 


VEDANTA AND WESTERN TRADITION 

mend my spirit,” or in Eckhart’s “Eye wherewith I see God, that is the 
same eye wherewith God sees in me; my eye and God’s eye, that is one 
eye and one vision and one knowing and one love,” or St. Paul’s “shall be 
one spirit.” The traditional texts are emphatic. We find, for example, in 
the Upanisads the statement that whoever worships, thinking of the deity 
as other than himself, is little better than an animal. This attitude is re¬ 
flected in the proverbial saying, “To worship God you must have become 
God”—which is also the meaning of the words, to “worship in spirit and 
in truth.” We arc brought back to the great saying, “That art thou,” and 
have now a better idea, though a far from perfect understanding (because 
the last step remains to be taken), of what “That” may be. We can now 
see how traditional doctrines (distinguishing the outer from the inner, 
the worldly from the other-worldly man, the automaton from the im¬ 
mortal spirit), while they admit and even insist upon the fact that So-and- 
so is nothing but a link in an endless causal chain, can nevertheless affirm 
that the chains can be broken and death defeated without respect to 
time: that this may happen, therefore, as well here and now as at the 
moment of departure or after death. 

We have not even yet, however, reached what is from the point of view 
of metaphysics defined as man’s last end. In speaking of an end of the 
road, we have so far thought only of a crossing of all the twenty-one bar¬ 
riers and of a final vision of the Supernal Sun, the Truth itself; of reach¬ 
ing the Spectator’s very pavilion; of being in heaven face to face with the 
manifested Eye. This is, in fact, the conception of man’s last end as en¬ 
visaged by religion. It is an aeviternal beatitude reached at the “Top of the 
Tree,” at the “Summit of contingent being”; it is a salvation from all the 
temporal vicissitudes of the field that has been left behind us. But it is a 
heaven in which each one of the saved is still one amongst others, and 
other than the Sun of Men and Light of lights himself (these are Vedic as 
well as Christian expressions); a heaven that, like the Greek Elysium, is 
apart from time but not without duration; a resting place but not a final 
home (as it was not our ultimate source, which was in the nonbeing of 
the Godhead). It remains for us to pass through the Sun and reach the 
Empyrean “home” of the Father. “No man cometh to the Father save 
through me.” We have passed through the opened doorways of initiation 
and contemplation; we have moved, through a process of a progressive 
self-naughting, from the outermost to the innermost court of our being, 
and can see no way by which to continue—although we know that behind 
this image of the Truth, by which we have been enlightened, there is a 
somewhat that is not in any likeness, and although we know that behind 


19 




INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 

this face of God that shines upon the world there is another and more 
awful side of him that is not man-regarding but altogether self-intent— 
an aspect that neither knows nor loves anything whatever external to 
itself. It is our own conception of Truth and Goodness that prevents our 
seeing Him who is neither good nor true in any sense of ours. The only 
way on lies directly through all that we had thought we had begun to 
understand: if we are to find our way in, the image of “ourselves” that we 
still entertain—in however exalted a manner—and that of the Truth and 
Goodness that we have “imagined” per excellentiam, must be shattered 
by one and the same blow. “It is more necessary that the soul lose God 
than that she lose creatures ... the soul honors God most in being quit 
of God ... it remains for her to be somewhat that he is not ... to die 
to all the activity denoted by the divine nature if she is to enter the divine 
nature where God is altogether idle ... she forfeits her very self, and 
going her own way, seeks God no more” (Eckhart). In other words, we 
must be one with the Spectator, both when his eyes arc open and when 
they are shut. If we are not, what will become of us when he sleeps? All 
that we have learned through the affirmative theology must be comple¬ 
mented and fulfilled by an Unknowing, the Docta Ignorantia of Christian 
theologians, Eckhart’s Agnosia. It is for this reason that such men as 
Sankara and Dionysius have so strongly insisted upon the via remotionis, 
and not because a positive concept of Truth or Goodness was any less 
dear to them than it could be to us. Sankara’s personal practice, indeed, 
is said to have been devotional—even while he prayed for pardon because 
he had worshipped God by name, who has no name. For such as these 
there was literally nothing dear that they were not ready to leave. 

Let us enunciate the Christian doctrine first in order the better to un¬ 
derstand the Indian. The words of Christ are these: that “I am the door; 
by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall pass in and out.” 
It is not enough to have reached the door; we must be admitted. But there 
is a price of admission. “He that would save his soul, let him lose it.” Of 
man’s two selves, the two Atmans of our Indian texts, the self that was 
known by name as So-and-so must have put itself to death if the other is 
to be freed of all encumbrances—is to be “free as the Godhead in its 
nonexistence.” 

In the Vedandc texts it is likewise the Sun of men and Light of lights 
that is called the doorway of the worlds and the keeper of the gate. Who¬ 
ever has come thus far is put to the test. He is told in the first place that 
he may enter according to the balance of good or evil he may have done. 
If he understands he will answer, “Thou canst not ask me that; thou 


VEDANTA AND WESTERN TRADITION 

knowest that whatever T may have done was not of ‘my’ doing, but of 
thine.” This is the Truth; and it is beyond the power of the Guardian 
of the Gate, who is himself the Truth, to deny himself. Or he may be 
asked the question, “Who art thou?” If he answers by his own or by a 
family name he is literally dragged away by the factors of time; but if he 
answers, “I am the Light, thyself, and come to thee as such,” the Keeper 
responds with the words of welcome, “Who thou art, that am I; and who 
I am, thou art; come in.” It should be clear, indeed, that there can be no 
return to God of anyone who still is anyone, for as our texts express it, 
“He has not come from anywhere or become anyone.” 

In the same way, Eckhart, basing his words on the logos, “If any man 
hate not father and mother, ... yea and his own soul also, he cannot be 
my disciple,” says that “so long as thou knowest who thy father and thy 
mother have been in time, thou art not dead with the real death”; and 
in the same way, Ruml, Eckhart’s peer in Islam, attributes to the Keeper 
of the Gate the words, “Whoever enters saying ‘I am so and so,’ I smite 
in the face.” We cannot, in fact, offer any better definition of the Vedic 
scriptures than St. Paul’s “The word of God is quick and powerful, and 
sharper than any two-edged sword, extending even unto the sundering of 
soul from spirit”: “Quid est ergo, quod debet homo inquirere in hac vita? 
Hoc est ut sciat ipsum.” “Si ignoras te, egredere!” 

The last and most difficult problem arises when we ask: what is the 
state of the being that has thus been freed from itself and has returned to 
its source? It is more than obvious that a psychological explanation is out 
of the question. It is, in fact, just at this point that we can best confess 
with our texts, “He who is most sure that he understands, most assuredly 
misunderstands.” What can be said of the Brahman—that “He is, by that 
alone can He be apprehended”—can as well be said of whoever has become 
the Brahman. It cannot be said what this is, because it is not any “what.” 
A being who is “freed in this life” (Ruml’s “dead man walking”) is “in 
the world, but not of it.” 

We can, nevertheless, approach the problem through a consideration of 
the terms in which the Perfected are spoken of. They are called either 
Rays of the Sun, or Blasts of the Spirit, or Movers-at-Will. It is also said 
that they are fitted for embodiment in the manifested worlds: that is to 
say, fitted to participate in the life of the Spirit, whether it moves or re¬ 
mains at rest. It is a Spirit which bloweth as it will. All of these expressions 
correspond to Christ’s “shall pass in and out, and shall find pasture.” Or 
we can compare it with the pawn in a game of chess. When the pawn has 
crossed over from the hither to the farther side it is transformed. It be- 


20 


21 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


comes a minister and is called a mover-at-will, even in the vernacular. 
Dead to its former self, it is no longer confined to particular motions or 
positions, but can go in and out, at will, from the place where its trans¬ 
formation was effected. And this freedom to move at will is another aspect 
of the state of the Perfected, but a thing beyond the conception of those 
who are still mere pawns. It may be observed, too, that the ertswhile pawn, 
ever in danger of an inevitable death on its journey across the board, is 
at liberty after its transformation either to sacrifice itself or to escape from 
danger. In strictly Indian terms, its former motion was a crossing, its 
regenerate motion a descent. 

The question of “annihilation,” so solemnly discussed by Western schol¬ 
ars, does not arise. The word has no meaning in metaphysics, which knows 
only of the nonduality of permutation and sameness, multiplicity and 
unity. Whatever has been an eternal reason or idea or name of an in¬ 
dividual manifestation can never cease to be such; the content of eternity 
cannot be changed. Therefore, as the Bhagavad Gita expresses it, “Never 
have I not been, and never hast thou not been.” 

The relation, in identity, of the “That” and the “thou” in the logos 
“That art thou” is stated in the Vedanta either by such designations as 
“Ray of the Sun” (implying filiation), or in the formula bhedabheda (of 
which the literal meaning is “distinction without difference”). The rela¬ 
tion is expressed by the simile of lovers, so closely embraced that there is 
no longer any consciousness of “a within or a without,” and by the cor¬ 
responding Vai$nava equation, “each is both.” It can be seen also in Plato’s 
conception of the unification of the inner and the outer man; in the Chris¬ 
tian doctrine of membership in the mystical body of Christ; in St. Paul’s 
“whoever is joined unto the Lord is one spirit”; and in Eckhart’s admirable 
formula “fused but not confused.” 

I have endeavored to make it clear that Sankara’s so-called “philosophy” 
is not an “enquiry” but an “explicitation”; that ultimate Truth is not, for 
the Vedantist, or for any traditionalist, a something that remains to be 
discovered but a something that remains to be understood by Everyman, 
who must do the work for himself. I have accordingly tried to explain 
just what it was that Sankara understood in such texts as Atharva Veda 
x.8.44: “Without any want, contemplative, immortal, self-originated, 
sufficed with a quintessence, lacking in naught whatever: he who knoweth 
that constant, ageless, and ever-youthful Spirit, knoweth indeed him-Self, 
and feareth not to die.” 



Who Is “Satan” and 
Where Is “Hell”? 

He that doeth sin is of the Devil 
1 John 3:8 


That in this day and age, when “for most people religion has become an 
archaic and impossible refuge,” 1 men no longer take either God or Satan 
seriously, arises from the fact that they have come to think of both alike 
only objectively, only as persons external to themselves and for whose exist¬ 
ence no adequate proof can be found. The same, of course, applies to the 
notions of their respective realms, heaven and hell, thought of as times and 
places neither now nor here. 

We have, in fact, ourselves postponed the “kingdom of heaven on earth” 
by thinking of it as a material Utopia to be realized, we fondly hope, by 
means of one or more five-year plans, overlooking the fact that the con¬ 
cept of an endless progress is that of a pursuit “in which thou must sweat 
eternally,” 2 —a phrase suggestive less of heaven than of hell. What this 
really means is that we have chosen to substitute a present hell for a future 
heaven we shall never know. 

The doctrine to be faced, however, is that “the kingdom of heaven is 
within you,” here and now, and that, as Jacob Boehme, amongst others, 
so often said, “heaven and hell are everywhere, being universally ex¬ 
tended. . . . Thou art accordingly in heaven or hell. . . . The soul hath 
heaven or hell within itself,” 3 and cannot be said to “go to” either when 
the body dies. Here, perhaps, the solution of the problem of Satan may 
be sought. 

It has been recognized that the notion of a Satanic “person,” the chief 
of many “fallen angels,” presents some difficulties: even in religion, that 

[This essay was first published in the Review of Religion, XI ( 1947 ).— ed.] 

1 Margaret Marshall in The Nation, February 2, 1946. 

2 Jacob Boehme, Dc incarnalione Verbi, it. 5.18. 

3 Jacob Boehme, “Of Heaven and Hell,” pp. 259, 260. 


22 


23 



INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


of a Manichean “dualism” emerges; at the same time, if it be maintained 
that anything whatever is not God, God’s infinity is thereby circumscribed 
and limited. Is “he,” Satan, then a person, or merely a “personification,” 
i.e., a postulated personality? 4 Who is “he,” and where? Is he a serpent 
or a dragon, or has he horns and a poisonous tail? Can he be redeemed and 
regenerated, as Origen and the Muslims have believed? All these problems 
hang together. 

However the ultimate truth of “dualism” may be repudiated, a kind of 
dualism is logically unavoidable for all practical purposes, because any 
world in time and space, or that could be described in words or by mathe¬ 
matical symbols, must be one of contraries, both quantitative and qualita¬ 
tive, for example, long and short, good and evil; and even if it could be 
otherwise, a world without these opposites would be one from which all 
possibility of choice, and of procedure from potentiality to act, would be 
excluded, not a world that could be inhabited by human beings such as we. 
For anyone who holds that “God made the world,” the question, Why did 
He permit the existence in it of any evil, or that of the Evil One in whom 
all evil is personified, is altogether meaningless; one might as well enquire 
why He did not make a world without dimensions or one without tem¬ 
poral succession. 

Our whole metaphysical tradition, Christian and other, maintains that 
“there are two in us,” 5 this man and the Man in this man; and that this 
is so is still a part and parcel of our spoken language in which, for example, 
the expression “self-control” implies that there is one that controls and 
another subject to control, for we know that “nothing acts upon itself,” 8 

1 "Person cannot be affirmed ... of living things . . . bereft of intellect and rea¬ 
son .. . but we say there is a person of a man, of God, of an Angel” (Boethius, 
Contra Evtychen u). On this basis, Satan, who remains an angel even in hell, can 
be called a Person, or indeed, Persons, since his name is “Legion: for we are many”; 
but as a fallen being, “out of his right mind,” in reality a Person only potentially. 
Much the same could be said of the soul, viz. that there is a Person of the soul, 
but hardly that the soul, as it is in itself, is a Person. Satan and the soul, both alike 
invisible, are only “known,” or rather “inferred,” from behavior, which is just what 
“personality” implies: “personality, that is the hypothetical unity that one postulates 
to account for the doings of people” (H. S. Sullivan, “Introduction to the Study of 
Interpersonal Relations," Psychiatry , I, 1938). 

5 Plato, Republic 439DE, 604a; Philo, Detenus 82; St. Thomas Aquinas, Sum. Theol. 
11-11.26.4; St. Paul, n Cor. 4:16; and in general, as the doctrine is briefly stated by 
Goethe: “Zwei Seelen wohnen ach, in meiner Brust, die eine will sich von der 
andern trennen” (Faust, 1, 759). Similarly in the Vedanta, Buddhism, Islam, and 
in China. 

8 Nil agit in scipsum-. axiomatic in Platonic, Christian, and Indian philosophy: 
“the same thing can never do or suffer opposites in the same respect or in relation 


24 


“SATAN” AND “HELL' 


though we forget it when we talk about “self-government.” 7 Of these two 
“selves,” outer and inner man, psycho-physical “personality” and very Per¬ 
son, the human composite of body, soul, and spirit is built up. Of these two, 
on the one hand body-and-soul (or -mind), and on the other, spirit, one 
is mutable and mortal, the other constant and immortal; one “becomes,” 
the other “is,” and the existence of the one that is not, but becomes, is pre¬ 
cisely a “personification” or “postulation,” since we cannot say of anything 
that never remains the same that “it is." And however necessary it may be 
to say “I” and “mine” for the practical purposes of everyday life, our Ego 
in fact is nothing but a name for what is really only a sequence of ob¬ 
served behaviors. 8 

Body, soul, and spirit: can one or other of these be equated with the 
Devil? Not the body, certainly, for the body in itself is neither good nor 
evil, but only an instrument or means to good or evil. Nor the Spirit— 
intellect, synteresis, conscience, Agathos Daimon—for this is, by hypothe¬ 
sis, man’s best and most divine part, in itself incapable of error, and our 
only means of participation in the life and the perfection that is God him¬ 
self. There remains only the “soul”; that soul which all must “hate” who 
would be Christ’s disciples and which, as St. Paul reminds us, the Word 
of God like a two-edged sword “severs from the spirit”; a soul which 
St. Paul must have “lost” to be able to say truly that “I live, yet not I, 
but Christ in me,” announcing, like Mansur, his own theosis. 

Of the two in us, one the “spark” of Intellect or Spirit, and the other, 
Feeling or Mentality, subject to persuasion, it is obvious that the latter is 
the “tempter,” or more truly “temptress.” There is in each of us, in this 
man and that woman alike, an anima and animus , relatively feminine and 
masculine; 8 and, as Adam rightly said, “the woman gave, and I did eat”; 

to the same thing at the same time,” Plato, Republic 43611; “strictly speaking, no 
one imposes a law upon his own actions,” Sum. Theol. 1.93.5; "because of the an¬ 
tinomy involved in the notion of acting upon oneself” ( svatmani ca k/iyavirodhat ), 
Sankara on BG 11.17. 

' “Art thou free of self? then art thou ‘Self-governed’ ” ( sclbes gewaltic = Skr. 
svarat), Mcister Eckhart, Pfeiffer ed., p. 598. 

8 “How can that which is never in the same state ‘be’ anything?” (Plato, Cratylus, 
43 f®; Tbeatctus , 152D; Symposium, 207D, etc.). “‘Ego’ has no real meaning, because 
it is perceived only for an instant,” i.e., does not last for even so long as two con¬ 
secutive moments (naivaham-arthah kjanikatva-darsanat ; Vivekacudamani of Sri 
San\aracharya , 293, Swami Madhavananda, tr., Almora, 3rd ed., 1932). 

9 It is unfortunate that, in modern psychology, an originally lucid terminology 
and distinction has been confused by an equation of the “soul-image” with “the 
anima in man, the animus in woman.” The terms are even more misused by 


25 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


also, be it noted, the “serpent,” by whom the woman herself was first 
beguiled, wears, in art, a woman’s face. But to avoid all possibility of mis¬ 
understanding here, it must be emphasized that all this has nothing what¬ 
ever to do with a supposed inferiority of women or superiority of men: in 
this functional and psychological sense any given woman may be “manly” 
(heroic) or any given man “effeminate” (cowardly ). 10 

One knows, of course, that “soul,” like “self,” is an ambiguous term, 
and that, in some contexts, it may denote the Spirit or “Soul of the soul,” 
or “Self of the self,” both of which are expressions in common use. But 
we are speaking here of the mutable “soul” as distinguished from the 
“spirit,” and should not overlook to what extent this nefesh, the anima 
after which the human and other “animals” are so called, is constantly 
disparaged in the Bible , 11 as is the corresponding nafs in Islam. This soul 
is the self to be “denied” (the Greek original meaning “utterly reject,” 

Father M. C. D’Arcy in his Mind and Heart of Love (London, 1946), ch. 7. 
Traditionally, amma and animus are the “soul" and the “spirit” equally in any 
man or any woman; so William of Thierry (cf. note 22 below) speaks of animus vel 
spiritus. This usage goes back to Cicero, e.g., Tusctdan Disputations 1.22.52, "neque 
nos corpora sumus . . . cum igitur: Nosce te dicit, hoc dicit, Nosce animum tuum," 
and v. 13.38, “humanus . . . animus dccerptus [est] ex mente divina"; and Lucius 
Accius (fr. 296), “sapimus animo, fruimur anima; sine animo, anima est debilis." 

10 In all traditions, not excepting the Buddhist, this man and this woman are 
both equally capable of “fighting the good fight.” 

11 Cf. D. B. Macdonald, The Hebrew Philosophical Genius (Princeton, 1934), 
p. 139, “the lower, physical nature, the appetites, the psyche of St. Paul . . . ‘self,’ 
but always with that lower meaning behind it”; Thomas Sheldon Green, Gree\- 
English Lexicon of the New Testament (New York and London, 1879), s.v. ipvygKOq 
(“governed by the sensuous nature subject to appetite and passion”); “anima . . . 
cujus vel pulchritudo virtus, vel deformitas vitium est . . . mutabilis est” (St Au¬ 
gustine, De gen. ad litt. 7.6.9, and Ep. 166.2.3). 

On the other hand, the “Soul" or “Self,” as printed with the capital, is Jung’s 
“Self . . . around which it [the Ego] revolves, very much as the earth rotates about 
the sun . . . [its] superordinated subject" (Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, 
London, 1928, p. 268); not a being, but the inconnumerable and indefinable "Being 
of all beings." 

We are never told that the mutable soul is immortal in the same timeless way 
that God is immortal, but only that it is immortal “in a certain way of its own” 
(secundum quemdam modum suum, St. Augustine, Ep. 166.2.3). If wc ask, Quo- 
mo do? seeing that the soul is in time, the answer must be, “in one way only, viz. 
by continuing to become; since thus it can always leave behind it a new and other 
nature to take the place of the old” (Plato, Symposium 207D). It is only God, who is 
the Soul of the soul, that we can speak of as immortal absolutely (1 Tim. 6:16). It 
is incorrect to call the soul "immortal” indiscriminately, just as it is incorrect to 
call any man a genius; man has an immortal Soul, as he has a Genius, but the 
soul can only be immortalized by returning to its source, that is to say, by dying 
to itself and living to its Self; just as a man becomes a genius only when he is 
no longer “himself.” 


26 


‘SATAN” AND “HELL" 


with ontological rather than a merely ethical application), the soul that 
must be “lost” if “it” is to be saved; and which, as Meister Eckhart and 
the Sufis so often say, must “put itself to death,” or, as the Hindus and 
Buddhists say, must be “conquered" or “tamed,” for “that is not my Self.” 
This soul, subject to persuasion, and distracted by its likes and dislikes, 
this “mind” that we mean when we speak of having been “minded to do 
this or that,” is “that which thou callest T or ‘myself,’ ” and which Jacob 
Boehme thus distinguishes from the I that is, when he says, with reference 
to his own illuminations, that “not I, the I that I am, knows these things, 
but God in me.” We cannot treat the doctrine of the Ego at length, but 
will only say that, as for Meister Eckhart and the Sufis, “Ego, the word I, 
is proper to none but God in his sameness,” and that “I” can only rightly 
be attributed to Him and to the one who, being “joined unto the Lord, 
is one spirit.” 

That the soul herself, our “I” or “self” itself, should be the Devil— 
whom we call the “enemy,” “adversary,” “tempter,” “dragon,”—never by 
a personal name 12 —may seem startling, but it is very far from being a 
novel proposition. As we go on, it will be found that an equation of the 
soul with Satan has often been enunciated, and that it provides us with 
an almost perfect solution of all the problems that the latter’s “personality” 
poses. Both are “real” enough for all pragmatic purposes here, in the 
active life where “evil” must be contended with, and the dualism of the 
contraries cannot be evaded; but they are no more “principles,” no more 
really real, than the darkness that is nothing but the privation of light. 

No one will deny that the battleground on which the psychomachy 
must be fought out to a finish is within you, or that, where Christ fights, 
there also must his enemy, the Antichrist, be found. Neither will anyone, 
“superstition” apart, be likely to pretend that the Temptations of St. An¬ 
thony, as depicted in art, can be regarded otherwise than as “projections” 
of interior tensions. In the same way that Picasso’s “Guernica” is the 
mirror of Europe’s disintegrated soul, “the hell of modern existence,” the 
Devil’s horns and sting are an image of the most evil beast in man himself. 
Often enough it has been said by the “Never-enough honoured Auncients,” 
as well as by modern authors, that “man is his own worst enemy.” On the 
other hand, the best gift for which a man might pray is to be “at peace 
with himself ”; 13 and, indeed, for so long as he is not at peace with Him- 

12 Even the Hebrew Satan, “opponent,” is not a personal name. 

13 Contest of Homer and Hesiod [Oxford Classical Texts, ed. Allen, Vol. 5— ed.], 
165, where the expression duvovv elval lavra* — /xeravoeiv (“repentance,” i.e., “com¬ 
ing to be in one’s right mind”), the opposite of rrapavoelv. 


27 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


self, 14 he can hardly be at peace with anybody else, but will “project” his 
own disorders, making of “the enemy”—for example, Germany, or Russia, 
or the Jews—his “devil.” “From whence come wars and fightings among 
you? Come they not hence, even from your lusts (pleasure, or desires, Skr. 
\dmdh) that contend in your members?” (James 4:1). 

As Jung so penetratingly observes: “When the fate of Europe carried 
it into a four years war of stupendous horror—a war that no one wanted— 
hardly anyone asked who had caused the war and its continuation.” 15 
The answer would have been unwelcome: it was “I”—your “I” and mine. 
For, in the words of another modern psychologist, E. E. Hadley, “the 
tragedy of this delusion of individuality is that it leads to isolation, fear, 
paranoid suspicion, and wholly unnecessary hatreds.” 18 

All this has always been familiar to the theologians, in whose writings 
Satan is so often referred to simply as “the enemy.” For example, William 
Law: “You are under the power of no other enemy, are held in no other 
captivity, and want no other deliverance but from the power of your own 
earthly self. This is the one murderer of the divine life within you. It is 
your own Cain that murders your own Abel,” 17 and “self is the root, the 
tree, and the branches of all the evils of our fallen state ... Satan, or which 
is the same thing, self-exaltation. . . . This is that full-born natural self 
that must be pulled out of the heart and totally denied, or there can be no 
disciple of Christ.” If, indeed, “the kingdom of heaven is within you,” 
then also the “war in heaven” will be there, until Satan has been overcome, 
that is, until the Man in this man is “master of himself,” selbes gewaltic, 
eytcparijs eWo 5 . 

For the Theologia Germanica (chs. 3,22, 49), it was the Devil’s “ ‘I, Me, 
and Mine’ that were the cause of his fall. ... For the self, the I, the me 
and the like, all belong to the Evil Spirit, and therefore it is that he is an 
Evil Spirit. Behold one or two words can utter all that has been said by 
these many words: ‘Be simply and wholly bereft of self.’” For “there is 

14 The Self we mean when we tell a man who is misbehaving to “be yourself’ 
(«v o-avTtp yei'ov, Sophocles, Philoctetes 950), for “all is intolerable when any man 
forsakes his proper Self, to do what fits him not” {ibid. 902-903). 

15 C. G. Jung, The integration of Personality (New York, ^35), p. 274. 

16 E. E. Hadley, in Psychiatry V (1942), t33; citing also H. S. Sullivan, op. cit., 
pp. 121-134; “emphasized individuality of each of us, 'myself.’ Here we have the 
very mother of illusions, the ever pregnant source of preconceptions that invalidate 
almost all our efforts to understand other people.” 

17 William Law, The Spirit of Love, and an Address to the Clergy, cited in Stephen 
Hobhouse, William Law and Eighteenth Century Quakerism (London, 1927), pp. 
156, 219, 220. 


28 


“SATAN” AND “HELL” 


nothing else in hell, but self-will; and if there were no self-will, there 
would be no devil and no hell.” So, too, Jacob Boehme: “this vile self-hood 
possesses the world and worldly things; and dwells also in itself, which is 
dwelling in hell”; and Angelus Silesius: 

Nichts anders stiirzet dich in Hollenschlund hinein 

Als dass verhasste Wort (merk’s wohll): das Mein und Dein. 18 

Hence the resolve, expressed in a Shaker hymn: 

But now from my forehead I’ll quickly erase 
The stamp of the Devil’s great “I.” 13 

Citations of this kind could be indefinitely multiplied, all to the effect 
that of all evil beasts, “the most evil beast we carry in our bosom,” 20 our 
most godless and despicable part” and “multifarious beast,” which our 
“Inner Man,” like a lion tamer, must keep under his control or else will 
have to follow where it leads. 21 

Even more explicit sayings can be cited from Sufi sources, where the 
soul ( nafs ) is distinguished from the intellect or spirit {aql, ruh) as the 
Psyche is distinguished from the Pneuma by Philo and in the New Testa¬ 
ment, and as anima from animus by William of Thierry. 22 For the encyclo¬ 
paedic Kashfu'l Mahjiib, the soul is the “tempter,” and the type of hell in 
this world. 23 Al-Ghazall, perhaps the greatest of the Muslim theologians, 
calls the soul “the greatest of your enemies”; and more than that could 
hardly be said of Satan himself. Abu Sa‘Id asks: “What is evil, and what 
is the worst evil?” and answers, “Evil is ‘thou,’ and the worst evil ‘thou’ 
if thou knowest it not”; he, therefore, called himself a “Nobody,” refusing, 
like the Buddha, to identify himself with any nameable “personality.” 24 

18 Angelus Silesius, Dcr Cherubinischc Wandcrstnann, v.238. 

19 E. D. Andrews, The Gift to be Simple (New York, 1940), p. 18; cf. p. 79, “That 
great big I, I’ll mortify.” 

20 Jacob Boehme, De inearnatione Verbi, 1.13.13. 

21 Plato, Republic 588c ff., where the whole soul is compared to such a composite 
animal as the Chimaera, Scylla, or Cerberus. In some respects the Sphinx might 
have been an even better comparison. In any case, the human, leonine, and ophidian 
parts of these creatures correspond to the three parts of the soul, in which “the hu¬ 
man in us, or rather our divine part” should prevail; of which Hercules leading 
Cerberus would be a good illustration. 

22 William of Thierry, The Golden Epistle of Abbot William of St. Thierry to 
the Carthusians of Mont Dieu, tr. Walter Shewring (London, 1930) §§50, 5r. 

23 Kashf al-Mahjub, tr. R. A. Nicholson {Gibb Memorial Series XVII), p. 199; 
cf. p. 9, “the greatest of all veils between God and man.” 

21 For Abu Sa'id see R. A. Nicholson, Studies in Islamic Mysticism (Cambridge, 
Wat), p- 53 - 


29 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 

Jalalu’d Din Rumi, in his Mathnawi, repeats that man’s greatest enemy is 
himself: “This soul,” he says, “is hell,” and he bids us “slay the soul.” “The 
soul and Shaitan are both one being, but take two forms; essentially one 
from the first, he became the enemy and envier of Adam”; and, in the 
same way, “the Angel (Spirit) and the Intellect, Adam’s helpers, are of 
one origin but assume two forms.” The Ego holds its head high: “de¬ 
capitation means, to slay the soul and quench its fire in the Holy War” 
(jihad)-, and well for him who wins this battle, for “whoever is at war 
with himself for God’s sake, ... his light opposing his darkness, the sun 
of his spirit shall never set.” 23 

’Tis the fight which Christ, 

With his internal Love and Light, 

Maintains within man’s nature, to dispel 
God’s Anger, Satan, Sin, and Death, and Hell; 

The human Self, or Serpent, to devour, 

And raise an Angel from it by His Pow’r. 

John Byrom 

“Spark of the soul ... image of God, that there is ever in all wise at war 
with all that is not godly . . . and is called the Synteresis” 20 (Meister Eck- 
hart, Pfeiffer ed., p. 113). “We know that the Law is of the Spirit . . . 
but I see another law in my members, warring against the Law of the 
Intellect, and bringing me into captivity. . . . With the Intellect I myself 
serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.... Submit your¬ 
selves therefore to God: resist the Devil.” 27 And similarly in other Scrip¬ 
tures, notably the Bhagavad Gita (vi.5, 6): “Lift up the self by the Self, let 
not self sit back. For, verily, the Self is both the friend and the foe of the 
self; the friend of one whose self has been conquered by the Self, but to 
one whose self hath not (been overcome), the Self at war, forsooth, acts 
as an enemy”; and the Buddhist Dhammapada (103, 160, 380), where 
“the Self is the Lord of the self” and one should “by the Self incite the 

25 Citations are from Mathnawi 1.2617; n.2525; m.374, 2738, 3193, 4053 (najs va 
shaitan har du cp in bud'and) ; cf. 11.2272 ff., v.2919, 2939. The fundamental kinship 
of Satan and the Ego is apparent in their common claim to independent being; and 
“association” (of others with the God who only is) amounts, from the Islamic point 
of view, to polytheism (ibid, iv.2675-77). 

29 On the meaning of the "Synteresis,” etymologically an equivalent of Skr. sam- 
taraka, “one who helps to cross over,” see O. Renz, “Die Synteresis nach dem HI. 
Thomas von Aquin,” Beitrage zur Geschichtc dcr Philosophic des Mittelaltcrs, X 
(Munster, 1911). 

27 Rom. 7:14-23; James 4:7. 



“SATAN” AND “HELL” 

self, and by the Self gentle self” (as a horse is “broken in” by a skilled 
trainer), and “one who has conquered self is the best of all champions.” 
(Cf. Philostratus, Vit. Ap., 1.13: “Just as we break in skittish and unruly 
horses by stroking and patting them.”) 

At the same time, it must not be forgotten that the Psychomachy is also 
a “battle of love,” and that Christ—to whom “ye should be married . . . 
that we should bring fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:3, 4)—already loved the 
unregenerate soul “in all her baseness and foulness,” 28 or that it is of her 
that Donne says: “Nor ever chaste, except Thou ravish me.” It was for 
nothing but “to go and fetch his Lady, whom his Father had eternally 
given him to wife, and to restore her to her former high estate that the 
Son proceeded out of the Most High” (Meister Eckhart). 20 The Deity’s 
lance or thunderbolt is, at the same time, his yard, with which he pierces 
his mortal Bride. The story of the thunder-smitten Semele reminds us 
that the Theotokos, in the last analysis Psyche, has ever been of Lunar, 
never herself of Solar stock; and all this is the sum and substance of every 
“solar myth,” the theme of the Liebesgeschichte des Himmels and of the 
Drach en Ijimpje. 

“Heaven and earth: let them be wed again.” 30 Their marriage, consum¬ 
mated in the heart, is the Hieros Gamos, Daivam Mithunam , 31 and those 
in whom it has been perfected are no longer anyone, but as He is “who 
never became anyone.” 32 Plotinus’ words: “Love is of the very nature of 
the Psyche, and hence the constant yoking of Eros with the Psyches in the 
pictures and the myths” 33 might as well have been said of half the world’s 
fairy-tales, and especially of the Indian “pictures and myths” of Sr! Krish¬ 
na and the Milkmaids, of which the Indian commentators rightly deny 
the historicity, asserting that all these are things that come to pass in all 
men’s experience. Such, indeed, are “the erotica (Skr. srngara) into which, 
it seems that you, O Socrates, should be initiated,” as Diotima says, and 
which in fact he so deeply respected. 34 

But, this is not only a matter of Grace; the soul’s salvation depends also 
on her submission, her willing surrender; it is prevented for so long as 
she resists. It is her pride ( tnana , abhimana-, ot-qp-a, oiyais; self-opinion, 
overweening), the Satanic conviction of her own independence ( asmi - 
mana, ahami{ara, cogito ergo sum), her evil rather than herself, that must 

28 St. Bonaventura, Dominica prima post octavum epiphaniae, 2.2. For the whole 
theme, see also Coomaraswamy, “On the Loathly Bride” [in Vol. I of this edition— 

ED.]. 

29 Pfeiffer ed., p. 288. 30 RV x.24.5. 31 SB x.5.2.12. 

32 KU 11.18. 33 Enncads vi.9.9, 34 Plato, Symposium 21OA. 


30 


31 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


‘SATAN” AND “HELL’ 


be killed; this pride she calls her “self-respect,” and would “rather die” 
than be divested of it. But the death that she at last, despite herself, de¬ 
sires, is no destruction but a transformation. Marriage is an initiatory death 
and integration (nirvana, sams\ara , reXos). 35 “Der Drache und die Jung¬ 
frau sind natiirlich identisch”; 36 the “Fier Baiser” transforms the dragon; 
the mermaid loses her ophidian tail; the girl is no more when the woman 
has been “made”; from the nymph the winged soul emerges. 37 And so 
“through Thee an Iblis may become again one of the Cherubim.” S8 

And what follows when the lower and the higher forms of the soul 
have been united? This has nowhere been better described than in the 
Aitareya Aranya\a (11.3.7): “This Self gives itself to that self, and that 
self to this Self; they become one another; with the one form he (in whom 
this marriage has been consummated) is unified with yonder world, and 
with the other united to this world”; the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad 
(iv.3.23): “Embraced by the Prescient Self, he knows neither a within 
nor a without. Verily, that is his form in which his desire is obtained, 
in which the Self is his desire, and in which no more desires or grieves.” 
“Amor ipse non quiescit, nisi in amato, quod fit, cum obtinet ipsum 
possessione plenaria”; 30 “Jam perfectam animam . . . gloriosam sibi 
sponsam Pater conglutinat.” 40 Indeed: 

Dafern der Teufel konnt aus seiner Seinheit gehn, 

So siihest du ihn stracks in Gottes Throne stehn. 41 

So, then, the Agathos and Kakos Daimons, Fair and Foul selves, Christ 
and Antichrist, both inhabit us, and their opposition is within us. Heaven 
and Hell are the divided images of Love and Wrath in divinis, where the 
Light and the Darkness are undivided, and the Lamb and the Lion lie 
down together. In the beginning, as all traditions testify, heaven and earth 
were one and together; essence and nature are one in God, and it remains 
for every man to put them together again within himself. 

35 Nirvana, J. 1.60; samskara, Manu 11.67; re'Aos, H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A 
GreekrEnglish Lexicon, 8th ed., Oxford, 1897, s.v. vi.2. 

38 E. Siecke, Drachenkampfe (Leipzig, 1907), p. 14. 

37 For die Fier Baiser see the references in Coomaraswamy, “On the Loathly 
Bride.” For the marriage, Meister Eckhart (Pfeiffer ed., p. 407) and Omikron, 
Letters from Paulos, New York, 1920, passim. 

38 RumI, Mathnawi iv.3496. 

39 Jean dc Castel, De adhaerendo Deo , C. 12. 

40 St. Bernard, De grad, humilitatis, vn.21. 

41 Angelus Silesius, 1.143. Cf. Theologia Germanica, ch. xvi: “If the evil Spirit 
himself could come into true obedience, he would become an angel [of light] again, 
and all his sin and wickedness would be blotted out.” 


All these are our answers. Satan is not a real and single Person, but a 
severally postulated personality, a “Legion.” Each of these personalities 
is capable of redemption ( apo\atastasis ), and can, if it will, become again 
what it was before it “fell”—Lucifer, Phosphorus, Helel, Scintilla, the 
Morning Star, a Ray of the Supernal Sun; because the Spark, however it 
may seem to be smothered, is an Asbestos that cannot be extinguished, 
even in hell. But, in the sense that a redemption of all beings cannot be 
thought of as taking place at any one time, and inasmuch as there will be 
devilish souls in need of redemption throughout all time, Satan must be 
thought of as being damned for ever, meaning by “damned,” self-excluded 
from the vision of God and the knowledge of Truth. 

The problem with which we started has been largely solved, but it still 
remains to accomplish the harder tasks of an actual “self-naughting” and 
consequent “Self-realization” to which the answers point, and for which 
theology is only a partial preparation. Satan and the Ego are not really 
entities, but concepts postulated and valid only for present, provisional, 
and practical purposes; both are composite photographs, as it were of 
Xj, X 2 , X 3 . It has often been said that the Devil’s most ingenious device is 
to persuade us that his existence is a mere “superstition.” In fact, however, 
nothing can be more dangerous than to deny his existence, which is as 
real, although no more so, as our own; we dare not deny Satan until we 
have denied ourselves, as everyone must who would follow Him who 
said and did nothing “of himself.” “What is Love? the sea of non-exist¬ 
ence”; 42 and “whoever enters there, saying ‘It is I,’ I [God], smite him in 
the face”; 43 “What is Love? thou shalt know when thou becomcst Me.” 44 

42 Mathnawi 111.4723. 

43 RumI, Divan, Ode xxvin. “None has knowledge of each who enters that he is 
So-and-so or So-and-so,” ibid., p. 61. 

44 Mathnawi n. Introduction. 


SRI RAMAKRISHNA 



Sri Ramakrishna and 
Religious Tolerance 


“They call Him by a multitude of names, Who is but One”; “A single 
Fire that burns on many altars”; “Even as He sheweth, so is He named”; 
these are affirmations taken from the sacrificial hymns of the Rg Veda. 
“As Fie is approached, so He becomes”; “It is because of His great abun¬ 
dance—or because He can be so variously participated in—that they call 
Flim by so many names.” By way of comment, we cite St. Thomas 
Aquinas, “The many aspects of these names are not empty and vain, for 
there corresponds to all of them one single reality represented by them 
in a manifold and imperfect manner” (Sum. Theol. 1.13.4 and 2). Noth¬ 
ing, perhaps, so strangely impresses or bewilders a Christian student of 
Saint Ramakrishna’s life as the fact that this Hindu of the Hindus, with¬ 
out in any way repudiating his Hinduism, but for the moment forgetting 
it, about 1866 completely surrendered himself to the Islamic way, repeated 
the name of Allah, wore the costume, and ate the food of a Muslim. 
This self-surrender to what we should call in India the waters of another 
current of the single river of truth resulted only in a direct experience of 
the beatific vision, not less authentic than before. Seven years later, Rama¬ 
krishna in the same way proved experimentally the truth of Christianity. 
He was now for a time completely absorbed in the idea of Christ, and 
had no room for any other thought. You might have supposed him a 
convert. What really resulted was that he could now affirm on the basis of 
personal experience, “I have also practiced all religions, Flinduism, Islam, 
Christianity, and I have also followed the paths of the different Hindu 
sects. . . . The lake has many shores. At one the Hindu draws water in a 
pitcher, and calls it jala, at another the Muslim in leather bottles, and 
calls it pani , at a third the Christian finds what he calls ‘water.’ ” 

[Originally a lecture given in New York, March 1936, for the centenary of the birth 
of Sri Ramakrishna, this text was published in Prabuddha Bharata, XLI (1936), and 
in French by Etudes traditionelles, XLI (1936).— ed.] 


Such an understanding may be rare, but is absolutely normal in the 
East: as the Bhagavad Gita expresses it, “There is no deity that I am not, 
and in case any man be truly the worshipper of any deity whatever, it is 
I that am the cause of his devotion and its fruit. . . . However men ap¬ 
proach Me, even so do I welcome them, for the path men take from every 
side is Mine.” Similarly the Bhakjamdla (cf. G. A. Grierson, ed., London, 
1909): “No one is ignorant of the doctrines of his own religion.... There¬ 
fore let every man, so far as in him lieth, help the reading of the Scrip¬ 
tures, whether those of his own church, or those of another.” And similarly 
also in Islam, “My heart has become capable of every form ... it is a con¬ 
vent for Christian monks, a temple for idols, the place of pilgrimage at 
Mecca, the tables of the Torah, the book of the Koran: I follow the re¬ 
ligion of Love, whichever way His camels take.” 

Such an understanding is rarer still, and one may say abnormal to the 
Western type of humanity. If the modern Christian does not quite en¬ 
dorse the conduct of Charlemagne’s heroes at Saragossa—“The synagogues 
they enter and the mosques, whose every wall with mallet and axes they 
shatter: they break in pieces small the idols ... the heathen folk in crowds 
to the font baptismal arc driven, to take Christ’s yoke upon them. . . . 
Thus out of heathen darkness have five-score thousand been redeemed, 
and be now true Christians,” it is at least quite certain that for every man 
that has died by religious persecution in India, ten thousand have died in 
Europe, and equally certain that the activity of Christian missions still 
quite frankly endorses a program of conversion by force—the force of 
money, not indeed paid out in cash, but expended on education and medi¬ 
cal aid bestowed with ulterior motives. “Force,” as Lafcadio Hearn once 
wrote, “the principal instrument of Christian propagandism in the past, 
is still the force behind our missions.” No greater offenders are to be found 
than missionaries against the commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false 
witness against thy neighbour.” I do not, however, at all wish to dwell 
upon this point of view, but rather to point out that although religious 
tolerance in Europe has never, as in Asia, been founded upon the belief 
that all religions are true, but rather founded on a growing indifference 
to all religious doctrines, an intellectual basis for a willing tolerance of 
other forms of belief is by no means wanting in Christianity. John, indeed, 
speaks of the “True Light that lighteth every man.” Even St. Thomas 
admits that some of the Gentiles who lived before Christ’s temporal birth 
may have been saved. For as Clement of Alexandria had long since said, 
‘There was always a natural manifestation of the one Almighty God, 


34 


35 



INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 

amongst all right-thinking men.” Eckhart speaks of “One of our most 
ancient philosophers who found the truth long, long before God’s birth, 
ere ever there was Christian faith at all as it is now,” and again much 
more boldly, “He to whom God is different in one thing from another 
and to whom God is dearer in one thing than another, that man is a 
barbarian, still in the wilds, a child.” 

Note that “Merlyn made the round table in tokenying of the roundenes 
of the world for by the round table is the world sygnefyed by ryghte. For 
all the world crysten and hethen repayren unto the round table ... (that) 
by them which should be felawes of the round table the truth of the 
Sancgreal should be well knowen.” (Malory, Morte Darthur, xiv.2). The 
truth is with Blake when he says, “The religions of all nations arc derived 
from each nation's different reception of the poetic genius 1 which is 
everywhere called the spirit of prophecy.... As all men are alike (though 
infinitely various), so all religions, and as all similars have one source.” 
The Vedic and Christian traditions are never tired of employing “Truth,” 
“Being,” and “Beauty,” as preeminently fitting, essential names of God. 
Now we are well aware that in this human world there cannot be a con¬ 
ceptual knowledge or expression of truth except in some way; just as 
there can be no perceptible beauty except of some kind. What is true in 
all truths, or what is beautiful in all beauties, cannot itself be any one of 
these truths or beauties. As Dionysius says, “If anyone in seeing God un¬ 
derstood what he saw, he saw not God himself, but one of those things 
that are His.” Belief in Revelation or Audition does not mean that the 
very words in which the truth is expressed in any case contain the truth, 
but rather that they point to it, for as St. Thomas says, “Everything has 
truth of nature according to the degree in which it imitates the knowledge 
of God”; “our intellect considers God according to the mode derived from 
creatures”; and finally, “the thing known is in the knower according to 
the mode of the knower.” All concepts of God, even the most nearly 
adequate, are thus man-made; as we say in India, “He takes the forms 
that are imagined by His worshippers.” Very surely He is not to be 
thought of as confined by or fully expressed by any of these forms. Who 
is Himself the single form of every form, and transcendent with respect to 
each and every form; it is from this point of view that many a Christian 
teacher has affirmed that “Nothing true can be said of God.” The value 
of concepts, of any expression verbal or visible, per verbum in intellectu 
conceptum, is one of use; the concept is of value not as a thing in itself, 

1 Vedic kavitva. 

36 


SRI RAMAKRISHNA 

but as dispositive to an essential vision, not in any likeness. The beauty of 
the formula, the verbal or visual icon, poignant as it may be in Christian 
gospel or Vedic liturgy, is not an end in itself but, referred to him who 
uses it, is an invitation. The purpose of any art, and no less of that highest 
art of theology, in which all other arts, whether literary or plastic, subsist 
per excellentiam, is to teach, to delight, and above all to move (Augustine’s 
docere, delectare, movere). An exclusive attachment to any one dogma, 
any one group of verbal or visual symbols, however pertinent, is an act of 
idolatry; the Truth itself is inexpressible. 

If the image is His whose image it is, the colors and the art are ours. 
Whoever claims that his own manner of understanding and statement is 
the only true one is moved not by the vision of God, but by spiritual pride. 
Such a believer, as Ibn ‘Arab! says, “praises none but himself, for his God 
is made by himself, and to praise the work is to praise the maker of it: 
its excellence or imperfection belongs to the maker. For this reason he 
blames the beliefs of others, which he would not do if he were just. . . . 
If he understood the saying of Junayd, ‘The color of the water is the color 
of the vessel containing it,’ he would not interfere with others, but would 
perceive God in every form and every belief. He has opinion, not knowl¬ 
edge: therefore God said, 'I am in my servant’s opinion of Me,’ that is, 
‘I do not manifest myself to him save in the form of his belief.’ God is 
absolute or unrestricted as He pleases; and the God of religious belief is 
subject to limitations, for He is the God who is contained in the heart of 
His servant.” The Oriental Gnostic has no fault to find with any Catholic 
doctrine; judged by Vedic standards, one can say that Christianity is true 
and lovely, true so far as any formulation can be true, lovely in so far as 
any thing, as distinguished from One who is no thing, can be lovely. 

Moreover, it can be positively affirmed that every notable Christian doc¬ 
trine is also explicitly propounded in every other dialect of the primordial 
tradition: I refer to such doctrines as those of the eternal and temporal 
births, that of the single essence and two natures, that of the Father’s 
impassibility, that of the significance of sacrifice, that of transubstantiation, 
that of the nature of the distinction between the contemplative and active 
lives and of both from the life of pleasure, that of eternity from aeviternity 
and time, and so forth. Literally hundreds of texts could be cited from 
Christian and Islamic, Vedic, Taoist, and other scriptures and their patris¬ 
tic expositions, in close and sometimes literally verbal agreement. To cite 
a trio of instances at random, whereas Damascene has to say that “He 
Who Is, is the principal of all names applied to God,” in the Katha Upani- 

37 



INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


$Rl RAMAKRISHNA 


sad we have “He is, by that alone is He to be apprehended”: whereas St. 
Thomas says, “These things are said to be under the sun which are gene¬ 
rated and corrupted,” the Satapatha Brahmana affirms that “Everything 
under the sun is in the power of death”; and whereas Dionysius speaks of 
That “which not to see or know is really to see and know,” the Jaiminiya 
Upanisad Brahmana has it that “The thought of God is his by whom it is 
unthought, or if he thinks the thought he does not understand.” All tradi¬ 
tional teaching employs side by side the via affirmativa and the via remo- 
tionis, and in this sense is in agreement with Boethius that “Faith is a 
mean between contrary heresies.” Sin is defined by the Thomist and in 
India in one and the same way as a “departure from the order to the end.” 
All tradition is agreed that the last end of man is happiness. 

On the other hand, while there can be only one metaphysics, there must 
be not merely a variety of religions, but a hierarchy of religions, in which 
the truth is more or less adequately expressed, according to the intellectual 
capacities of those whose religions they are. Nor do I mean to deny that 
there can be heterodox doctrines, properly to be condemned as heresies, 
but only that any and every belief is a heresy if it be regarded as the 
truth, and not merely as a signpost of the truth. Pantheism, for example, is 
equally a heresy from Christian, Islamic, and Hindu points of view; a 
confusion of things as they are in themselves with things as they are in 
God, of the essence of the participant with the participated Essence, is an 
egregious error, and yet not so great an error as to assume that the being 
of things as they are in themselves is altogether their own being. The dis¬ 
tinction of essence from nature of the Samkhya system is true from a cer¬ 
tain point of view, and yet false when regarded from the standpoint of a 
higher synthesis, as in the Vedanta, and similarly in Christianity, where 
from one point of view essence and nature are the universe apart, and yet in 
the simplicity of the First Cause are one impartite substance. 

It is perfectly legitimate to feel that a given religion is more adequately 
true than another; to hold, for example, that Catholicism is more ade¬ 
quately true than Protestantism, or Hinduism than Buddhism. Real dis¬ 
tinctions can be drawn: Christianity maintains, for example, that meta¬ 
physics, though the highest of the other sciences, is inferior to the sacred 
science of theology; Hinduism is primarily metaphysical, and only sec¬ 
ondarily religious, hence the controversies as to the true significance of 
“deification,” and hence it is that however much a Hindu may find him¬ 
self in enthusiastic agreement with the angelic and celestial doctors (Tho¬ 
mas and Bonaventura), he is more at home with certain giants of Christian 


thought whose orthodoxy is suspect, I mean Eriugena, Eckhart, Boehme, 
Blake, and more at home with Plotinus than with the representatives of 
exoteric Christian orthodoxy; more at home with St. John than with St. 
James, more in sympathy with Christian Platonism than with Christian 
Aristotelianism, scarcely at all in sympathy with Protestant theologies, and 
far more in sympathy with Qabbalistic interpretations of Genesis and 
Exodus than with any historical approach. So that we do not for a 
moment mean to maintain the impropriety of all dogmatic controversy. 
We must bear in mind that even within the framework of a presumably 
homogeneous faith it is taken for granted that one and the same truths 
must be presented in various ways suited to the audience, and that this is 
not a matter of contradictor)' statement, but of “convenient means.” What 
we do maintain is that all paths converge; that the Wayfarer, having 
already trodden a given path, will under all normal circumstances sooner 
reach that point at which all progress ends—“On reaching God, all prog¬ 
ress ends”—than if he retrace his steps and start afresh. 

What we must not forget is that no one can finally pronounce upon 
the truth of a given religion who has not lived it, as Ramakrishna lived 
both Christianity and Islam, as well as Hinduism; and that once con¬ 
vinced that only one’s own truth is true, “It is,” as Professor C. A. Briggs 
of Drew University lately remarked, “the easiest thing imaginable to take 
the concepts of other faiths, abstract them from their contexts, and de¬ 
molish them.” For example, how easily the Islamic definition of Chris¬ 
tianity as a polytheistic religion could be deduced from the considered 
statement of St. Thomas, that “We do not say the only God, because deity 
is common to several” (Sum. Theol. 1.31.2c). In the same way, a pan¬ 
theistic definition of Christianity could easily be deduced from St. Thom¬ 
as’s “A thing has being by participation. ... We must consider ... the 
emanation of all being from the universal cause, which is God” (Sum. 
Theol. 1.44.1 ad 1 and 45 ic). 

What is then, in the last analysis, the value of comparative religion? 
Certainly not to convince us that one mode of belief is the preparation 
for another, or to lead to a decision as to which is “best.” One might as 
well regard ancient or exotic styles of art as preparations for and aspira¬ 
tions towards one’s own. Nor can the value of this discipline be thought of 
as one conducing to the development of a single universally acceptable 
syncretic faith embodying all that is “best” in every faith; such a “faith” 
as this would be a mechanical and lifeless monstrosity, by no means a 


38 


39 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


stream of living water, but a sort of religious Esperanto. Comparative re¬ 
ligion can demonstrate that all religions spring from a common source; 
are, as Jeremias says, the “dialects of a single spiritual speech." We cannot, 
therefore, take the formulae of one religion and insert them in another 
without incongruity. One can recognize that many formulae are identical 
in different religions; confront, for example, St. Thomas, “Creation, which 
is the emanation of all being from the not-being, which is no thing” (Sum. 
Theol. 1.45.1c) with the Vedic “Being is engendered from nonbeing” 
(asatah sad ajdyata, RV x.72.3), and such comparisons can be validly em¬ 
ployed (even by the most orthodox) as what St. Thomas calls “extrinsic 
and probable proofs” of the validity of a given dogma. 

But of greater value than this is the clarification that results when the 
formulae of one tradition are collated with those of another. For, as we 
have already seen, every tradition is necessarily a partial representation of 
the truth intended by tradition universally considered; in each tradition 
something is suppressed, or reserved, or obscure which in another may be 
found more extensively, more logically, or more brilliantly developed. 
What then is clear and full in one tradition can be used to develop the 
meaning of what may be hardly more than alluded to in another. Or even 
if in one tradition a given doctrine has been definitely named, a realization 
of the significance of this definition may lead to the recognition and 
correlation of a whole series of affirmations in another tradition, in all 
of which the same doctrine is implicit, but which had previously been 
overlooked in their relation to one another. It is thus a great advantage to 
be able to make use of the expression Vedic exemplaristn; or conversely, 
to speak of Christian yoga immediately brings out the analogy between 
St. Bernard’s consideratio, contemplatio, and raptus with Sanskrit dhara- 
na, dhyana, and samadhi. 

To many Christians, no doubt, Sri Ramakrishna’s primary attachment 
to the cult of the Great Mother gives offense. Nothing is, indeed, more 
usual than to consider that Christianity, whether for better or worse, 
adheres to purely masculine interpretations of divine being; the Christian 
speaks of a Father, but not of a Mother in Heaven, whereas in India the 
ancient love of the Magna Mater maintains itself at the present day on 
equal terms with that of the Propator. And yet the doctrine of the ma¬ 
ternity of the divine nature is repeatedly, however reservedly, affirmed in 
Christian theology, fundamentally in that of the “two natures,” more ex¬ 
plicitly in that of the temporal and eternal nativities, and in that of the 
Generation of the Son as a vital operation from conjoint principles—“Pro- 


40 


Sri ramakrishna 


cessio Verbi in divinis dicitur generatio . . . quae est operatio vitae . . . 
et propter hoc proprie dicitur genitum et Filius” (Sum. Theol. 1.27.2; 
cf. 1.98.2c, “In every act of generation there is an active and a passive 
principle.”). It is inasmuch as “eternal filiation does not depend on a 
temporal mother” (ibid, m.35.5 ad 2) that Eckhart can speak of the “act 
of fecundation latent in eternity,” and say that “it is God who has the 
treasure and the bride in Him,” that the “Godhead wantons with the 
Word,” and that “His birth in Mary ghostly was to God better pleasing 
than His nativity of her in the flesh.” One sees that when St. Thomas 
speaks of “that Nature by which the Father begets” (Sum. Theol. 1.41.5), 
the reference is really to the Magna Mater, the Vedic Aditi, not to men¬ 
tion other names of the One Madonna, and sees what is really meant by 
the otherwise obscure assertion that notwithstanding primary matter 
“recedes from likeness to God, yet . . . it retains a certain likeness to the 
divine being” (ibid. 1.14.11 ad 3). Natura Naturata indeed “retains” a cer¬ 
tain likeness to “Natura Naturans, Creatrix, Deus”: Mother Earth to 
Mother Nature, Mary in the flesh to Mary ghostly. One need only con¬ 
sider Genesis 1:27, “To the image of God He created him; male and fe¬ 
male He created them,” in connection with Galatians 3:28, “according to 
the image of Him that created him, where there is neither male nor fe¬ 
male," to realize that whereas Essence and Nature in divinis are one 
simple substance without composition, the very fact that the conjoint 
principles can be separately exemplified is proof that the Supreme Identity 
can be truly spoken of either as Father or as Mother, or as Father-Mother, 
just as in the Vedas the Divine “Parents” are indifferently “Fathers” 
(pitard) or “Mothers” (maiard), or as “That One, spirated, despirated” 
(tad e\am anit avatam , RV x.129.2, where no gender is implied; cf. Eck- 
hart’s “Where these two abysms hang, equally spirated, despirated, there 
is the Supreme Being”). 

Thus we may go so far as to assert on behalf of a true “comparative 
religion,” that however a religion may be self-sufficient if it be followed 
to the very end to which it is directed, there can hardly be supposed a way 
so plain that it could not here and there be better illuminated by other 
lights than that of the pilgrim’s private lantern, the light of any lantern 
being only a refraction of the Light of lights. A diversity of routes is not 
merely appropriate to a diversity of travelers, who are neither all alike, 
nor start from one and the same point, but may be of incalculable aid to 
any traveler who can rightly read the map; for where all roads converge, 
there can be none of them that does not help to clarify the true position 


41 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 


of the center of the maze, “short of which we are still in a duality.” Hence 
we say that the very implications of the phrase “religious tolerance” are 
to be avoided: diversity of faith is not a matter for unwilling “toleration,” 
but of divine appointment. And this will hold good even if we sincerely 
believe that other faiths are inferior to our own, and in this sense rela¬ 
tively “evil”: for as Augustine says, “The admirable beauty of the uni¬ 
verse is made up of all things. In which even what is called evil, well-or¬ 
dered and in its place, is the eminent commendation of what is good” 
(Enchiridion xm), whom St. Thomas quotes with approval, adding that 
“The universe, the present creation being supposed, cannot be better, be¬ 
cause of the most beautiful order given to things by God” {Sum. Theol. 
1.48.1 and 1.25.6 ad 3). As Augustine also says, “There is no evil in things, 
but only in the sinner’s misuse of them” {De doctrina Christiana m.12). 
As to the sinner’s “misuse,” who can assure us of that, with respect to 
which it has been said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”? 

In the matter of direction towards the Kingdom of Heaven “within 
you,” 2 the modern world is far more lacking in the will to seek, than 
likely to be led astray by false direction. From the Satanic point of view 
there could hardly be imagined a better activity than to be engaged in 
the “conversion of the heathen” from one to another body of dogmas: that, 
surely, was not what was meant by the injunction, “Go thou and preach 
the Kingdom of God”—or was He mistaken, when He said, “The King¬ 
dom of Heaven is within you”? 

2 Sanskrit hrdaya>(ase, antarbhutasya 


42 



The essential procedures of initiatory rites, by which the death of an old 
man and the rebirth of a new man are effected, and the conditions of access 
to penetralia, are alike all over the world. Firmicus Maternus, De errore 
profanarum religionum (ch. xviii), dealing with these subjects, 1 reminds 
us that there are right answers to the right questions ( habent enim propria 
signa propria responsa), and that the right answer ( proprium responsum) 
is made by the initiand {homo moriturus) precisely as the proof of his 
right to be admitted {ut possit admitti). A typical example of such a sig- 
num and of the wrong and right answers can be cited from the Jaiminiya 
Upanisad Brdhmana, 111.14.1-5. When the deceased reaches the Sundoor 
the question is asked, “Who art thou?” If he answers by his own or by a 
family name 2 he is dragged away by the factors of time. He should re¬ 
spond, “Who I am (is) the Light thou (art) {\o’ham asmi suvas team). 

[This note was first published in the Review of Religion, VI (i 94 i).-ed.] 

1 For Firmicus Maternus, see G. van der Leeuw, "The SYMBOAA in Firmicus 
Maternus,” in Egyptian Religion, I (1933). 

2 “Names are fetters" (AA n. 1.6). God has no personal or family name (BU 
m.8.8), nor ever becomes anyone (KU 11.18), and it follows that there can be no 
return to God, no deificatio (for which, in Cusa’s words, an ablatio omnis altcritatis 
ct diversitatis is indispensable) for anyone who still is someone. The initiate is name¬ 
less, is not himself but Agni (KB vii.2.3), cf. Gal. 2:20, vivo autem jam non ego, 
sed Christas in me. God is a Sea, "nostra pace: ella e quel marc, al quad tutto si 
move" ( Paradiso 111.85, 86); and as the names of the rivers are lost in the sea, so are 
our names and likenesses lost when we reach Him (A iv.198, Prasna Up. vi.5). 

Also sich wandelt der tropfe in daz mer” (Eckhart, Pfeiffer ed., p. 314), cf. RumI, 
that your drop may become the sea,” and “None has knowledge of each who en¬ 
ters, that he is ‘So-and-so’ ” (Odes xn and xv in Divan), and Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching 
XXXII, “To Tao all under heaven will come as streams flow into a great river 
or sea.” [“He that finds (God) becomes lost (in Him): like a torrent he is absorbed 
m the Ocean” ( Mathnawi vr.4052).] And so, according to the inscription cited by 
V. Magnien, Les Mysteres d'Eleusis (Paris, 1938), p. 334, “Pour mon nom, ne cherche 
pas qui je suis: le rite mystique l’emmena en s’en allant vers la mer empourpree.” 
it See also Coomaraswamy, “ A\imcanna\ Self-Naughting” [in this vol.— ed.], and 
"Svayamatrnna: Janua Coeli" [in Vol. I of this edition— ed.]. 

43 


INTRODUCTORY ESSAYS 

As such have I come to thee, the heavenly Light.” He (Prajapati, the Sun) 
replies, “Who thou art, that same am I; who I am, that same art thou. 
Enter in.” Of numerous parallels that might be cited, perhaps the most 
striking is Ruml’s myth of the man who knocked at his friend’s door and 
was asked “Who art thou?” He answered “I.” “Begone,” said his friend. 
After a year’s separation and tribulation he came and knocked again, 
and to the same question replied, “ ’Tis thou art at the door,” and received 
the reply, “Since thou art I, come in, O myself.” 3 

Now there can be no question that the entrance to the temple of Apollo 
at Delphi was literally a Sundoor, a way into the house or temple of the 
Sun. The superscription, “Know thyself” (yvSsfh. creavrov) demands a 
knowledge of the answer to the question, “Who art thou?” 4 and may be 
said, in the veiled language of the mysteries, to ask this very question. 
The injunction, as Plutarch says, 5 is addressed by the God to all who ap¬ 
proach him; and the famous “E” he takes to be their right answer. If 
now, as he also suggests, “E” stands for El, and if we take from his various 
interpretations the meanings (i) the Sun (Apollo) and (2) “thou art,” 

3 Mathnaw'i 1.3056-3065; cf. Song of Songs 1:8, "Si ignoras te, egredere.” 

* That the inscription actually puts this question is explicit in Xenophon, Memora¬ 
bilia iv,2.24, where Socrates asks Euthydcmus, "Did you heed it, and try to consider 
who you were?” (6<ms eit?«). 

s Moralitt 3840 ff. (“The 'E’ at Delphi”). It is likewise assumed in Plato {Charmides 
1640) that the injunction “Know thyself” is not “a piece of advice” but “the God’s 
salutation (-irpo'crpijo-is) to those who enter,” and that the words are spoken by the God 
to those who are entering his temple, “otherwise than as men speak” and "very 
enigmatically” (aiviypaToSlirrepov) ; i.e., “non in doctis humanae sapientiae verbis, 
sed in doctrina Spiritus” (1 Cor. 2:13). 

The words “Know thyself" are “enigmatic,” it would appear, only because they 
can be taken to refer to a knowledge of either one of man’s two souls or selves, the 
bodily and mortal or the incorporeal and immortal, so often spoken of by Plato 
and in the Vedic philosophy. In Xenophon, Memorabilia iv.2.24 (cf. 111.9.6), Socrates 
speaks of “self-knowledge” as the knowledge of one’s own powers and limitations 
[cf. Philo, De specialibus legibus 1.44 and Plutarch, Moralia 394c]; but this is in con¬ 
versation with a conceited man who thinks he already knows himself “who” he is, 
"Euthydemus” by name. But in Alcibiades i.i30EfI., Socrates says that "he who 
orders, 'Know thyself,’ bids us know the soul,” and goes on to say that one who 
knows only what is of the body “knows the things that arc his but not himself’ 
(to. av-Qv dAA’ ov\ aurov); cf. BU 1 - 5 - 1 5 • 

As a parallel to these distinctions may be cited Plutarch’s ridicule of those who 
cannot distinguish Apollo from the Sun ( Moralia 3930, 40000), passages that echo 
Laws 898D, where Plato says that “that body of Helios is seen by all, his soul by 
none," and recall AV x.8.14: "Him (the Sun) all men see, not all know with the 
mind.” 


THE “E” AT DELPHI 

and assume that both these meanings are contained in the one enigmatic 
syllable, we have the signum, “Who art thou (at the door) ?” and the 
responsum, “The Sun thou art (am I).” It is certain that no other true 
answer could have been given by anyone “qualified to go in unto union 
with the Sun.” 6 

6 JUB 1.6.1. 







Recollection, Indian and Platonic 


Punar ehi vacas pate devena manasa saha 
Vasoh pate ni ramaya mayy evaslu mayi srutam 

AV 1.1.2 1 

Cathedram habct in caelo qui intus corda docet. 

St. Augustine, In epist. ]oannis ad Parthos 

My Lord embraces all things in His knowledge; will you 
not remember? 

Koran vi.8o, tr. A, J. Arberry 


In the following article, the doctrine that what we call “learning” is really 
a “remembering” and that our “knowledge” is by participation in the 
Omniscience of an immanent spiritual principle will be traced in Indian 
and Platonic texts. This corresponds, in the same Perennial Philosophy, 
to the doctrine that the beautiful is such by a participation in Beauty, and 
all being a participation of Being absolutely. 

The omniscience of the immanent spiritual principle, intellectus vel 
spiritus, is the logical correlative of its timeless omnipresence. It is only 
from this point of view that the concept of a Providence ( prajna , ttpovota, 
npofi-qdeia) becomes intelligible. The Providential Self ( prajnatman) 
does not arbitrarily decree our “Fate” but is the witness of its operation: 
our Fate is merely the temporal extension of its free and instant act of 
being. It is only because we think of Providence as a foreknowledge of the 

[This study was first published as Supplement No. 3 to the Journal of the American 
Oriental Society, LXIV (1944). The abstract that prefaced the article has been re¬ 
tained.— ED.] 

1 AV 1.1.2: “Come thou again, O Lord of Speech, with the divine mind, infix it, 
O Lord of Weal, in me, yea in me let thy lore abide.” Cf. AV 1.1.4, sain srutena 
gamemahi, “May we be familiar with thy lore," where sam gam corresponds to 
anubhit in other contexts. Cf. also AA 11.2.7, Avir avir me edhi . . . ma srutam me 
pra hasit, “Do thou (Atman, Brahma) be revealed to me, may thy lore not forsake 
me” (Keith’s rendering). 

St. Augustine: “His throne is in heaven who teaches from within the heart.” Cf. 
BU nt.9.23, "the support of Truth is in the heart.” 


49 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

future that we are confused; as if we asked, What was God thinking in a 
time before time was! Actually, Providential knowledge is no more of 
a future than of a past, but only of a now. Experience of duration is in¬ 
compatible with omniscience, of which the empirical self is therefore in¬ 
capable. 

On the other hand, to the extent that we are able to identify ourselves 
with the Providential Self itself —Tvasdi creavrov, That art thou—we rise 
above the sequences of Fate, becoming their spectator rather than their 
victim. Thus the doctrine that all knowledge is by participation is insepara¬ 
bly connected with the possibility of Liberation (mo\sa, \vt ri$) from the 
pairs of opposites, of which past and future, here and there, are the per¬ 
tinent instances in the present context. As Nicholas of Cusa has expressed 
it, the wall of the Paradise in which God dwells is made up of these con¬ 
traries, and the strait way in, guarded by the highest spirit of Reason, lies 
between them. In other words, our Way lies through the now and no¬ 
where of which empirical experience is impossible, though the fact of 
Memory assures us that the Way is open to Comprehensors of the Truth. 

The Gayatrl (RV 111.62.10) invokes Savitr to “impel our intellections” 
(dhiyo yo nah pracodayat), or better, “our speculations.” 2 A A 11.3.5 “lls 
us that “the self that is in speech {vac ) 3 is incomplete, since one intuits 
(erlebt, anubhavatiy when impelled to thought ( manase) by the Breath 
(prdnena), not when impelled by speech.” 5 “Breath” is to be understood 
here in its highest sense, common in the Aitareya Aranya^a, that of 
Brahma and immanent solar Self, and as in BU 11.5.19, ayam dtma brahma 


2 MU vi. 10 explains dh'tyah by buddhayah ; [he dhtra is “contemplative” rather 
than merely “wise.” With pracodayat, c£. MU n.6 pratibodhanaya and pracodayitr. 

3 The powers of the soul are called “selves” in CU vm.8.12.4 ff. and Kaus. Up. 
iv.20. That is to say, “the self of speech" means the man considered as a speaker. 
In this sense, man has as many selves as he has powers. 

4 Anubhti (cf. “gleichkommen" and accognosccrc) is literally “to come to be along 
with,” or “adapted or conformed to, or identified with” the object of knowledge, 
whether in the epistemological or the erotic (JUB 1.54.7) sense; cf. adaequatio ret 
ct intellectus. [Cf. anu . . . vid in RV iv.27.1 = ovvttns as defined in Cratylus 412.] 
We have tried to suggest this content by using the word “intuit,” and sometimes 
“experience” (with implied “immediacy”), reserving “know” for jna. 

5 This hardly differs from Keith’s version. On Manas (and Vac), cf. Coomara- 
swamy, “On Being in One’s Right Mind,” 1942, p. 11; and CU vm.12.5, “Now he 
who knows, ‘Let me think this’—that is the Self ( dtman , Spirit). The Mind is his 
‘divine eye’ ( daiva cahsus) ; he, verily, with that divine eye, the Mind, beholds 
these objects of desire, and is content.” Mind is the “prior” and the “overlord” of 
the other powers of the soul (SB x.5.3.7, xtv.3.2.3). 

50 


RECOLLECTION 

sarvanubhilh , “this Self, Brahma, experient of all.” 5 The sense is, then, 
that it is not by what we are told, but by the indwelling Spirit, that we 
know and understand the thing to which words can only refer us; that 
which is audibly or otherwise sensed does not in itself inform us, but 
merely provides the occasion and opportunity to re-cognize the matter to 
which the external signs have referred us. 

While these texts unmistakably present us with the notions of illumina¬ 
tion and inspiration, we should not propose to deduce from them alone 
a fully developed theory of “Recollection” ( smara, smrti; sati) without 
further support; we cite them first by way of introduction to other texts 
treating directly of Memory. 

The doctrine is simply stated in CU vn.26.1: “Memory is from the Self, 
or Spirit” (dtmatah smarah). For “the Self knows everything” (sarvam 
atma jdnite, MU vi.7), “this Great Being is just a recognition-mass” 
( vijhanaghana , BU 11.4.12), or “precognition-mass” ( prajhana-ghana , BU 
iv.5.13, cf. Mand. Up. 5). Brahma, Self, is “intuitive of everything” ( sarva - 
nubhuh , BU 11.2.19) because, as Sankara says, it is the “Self of all” (sar- 
valman); He, indeed, is “the only seer, hearer, thinker, knower, and fruc- 
tuary in us” (BU ni.8.11, iv.5.15; cf. AA m.2.4) and therefore, because 
of His timeless omnipresence, must be omniscient. Memory is a participa¬ 
tion of His awareness who never himself “remembers” anything, because 
he never forgets. “Memory,” as Plotinus says, “is for those who have 
forgotten.” 7 

CU vn.13.1 echoes and expands AA n.3.5 as cited above: “Memory 
{smara) is more than Space {d\asa, the medium of hearing). Accordingly, 
even were many men assembled, not being possessed of Memory, neither 
would they hear any one at all, nor think {man), nor recognize {vijha), 
but if possessed of Memory, they would hear and think and recognize. 
By Memory, assuredly, one recognizes {vijandti) children, recognizes cat¬ 
tle. Revere Memory.” 

The power-of-the-soul that remembers is the Mind {manas — vov s), s 
undistracted by the working of the powers of perception and action. 
‘There, in ‘clairvoyant-sleep’ ( svapne ) 9 that divinity intuits {anubhavati) 

6 Sarvanubhuh states rather the basis than the bare fact of omniscience. The 
Self is necessarily “omniscient” because it is “the only seer, hearer, thinker, etc.” 
in us (BU m.4.2, 111.7.23, etc.). The empirical self is its instrument. 

7 Enneads iv.4.7. * Cf. MU vx.34.6-9. 

9 Svapna here, as often elsewhere, is not ordinary sleep or dreaming, but a state 
of contemplation (dhyana). The "divinity” is the “Recognitive Person” ( vijnanamaya 
purusa) of BU 11.1.17, 18, “who is said to be ‘asleep’ ( svapiti ) when he controls the 

51 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


Greatness. Whatever has been seen ( drstam ), he proximately sees ( anu- 
pa'sya'i), whatever has been heard, he proximately hears (anusrunoti). 
Whatever has been and has not been seen, whatever has been heard and 
has not been heard, intuitively known or unknown ( anubhiitam, ananu- 
bhutam), good or evil {sat, asat ), 10 whatever has been directly experienced 
(pratyanubhutam) in any land or airt, again and again he directly ex¬ 
periences; he sees it all, he sees it all” (Prasna Up. iv.5); or, as the Com¬ 
mentator understands the conclusion, “being himself the all, he sees it 
all,” in accordance with the principle of the identity of knowing and 
being enunciated in verse it, where the Comprehensor of the Self “know¬ 
ing all, becomes all.” In the foregoing context, Sarikara interprets, rightly 
I think, “seen and not seen” as referring to “what has been seen in this 
birth and what has been seen in another birth”:" the meaning of this 

powers of perception and action. Resuming the recognitive power (vijhanam adaya), 
he rests in the heart. . . . When he ‘sleeps,’ these worlds are his. . . . Controlling 
the powers of perception and action, he drives around in his own person (lit. ‘body’) 
as he will.” As in BU v.3.7, where this Person “as it were contemplates ( dhyayativa ), 
as it were disports, for when he is ‘asleep’ ( svapno bhutva) he transcends this world 
and the forms of death.” 

In this technical sense, “sleep” and “dreaming” are not the sleep of fatigue but 
the act of imagination. And this is quite universal. For example, “1 will pour out 
my spirit upon all flesh . . . your old men shall dream dreams, your young men 
shall see visions” (Joel 2:28); “my thoughts had soared high aloft, while my bodily 
senses had been put under restraint by sleep—yet not such sleep as that of men 
weighed down by fullness of food or by bodily weariness—[and] methought there 
came to me a Being ... the Mind of the Sovereignly . .. [who said] ‘Keep in mind 
all that you desire to learn, and I will teach you,’” (Hermes, Lib. 1.1; in 1.28 he 
refers to the sleep of fatigue as “irrational sleep”); “Me bi-fel a ferly ... I slumberde 
in a slepyng . . . }>enne gon I meeten a meruelous sweune ... I beo-heold. . . .” 
{Piers the Plowman , Prologue). Mathnawi iv.3067 contrasts the sleep of the vulgar 
with that of the elect; the latter “has nothing in common with the sleep of ig¬ 
norance ( kjiwab-i-ghaflat) in which most people pass their conscious lives” (Nichol¬ 
son’s note on Mathnawi 11.31, cf. 1.388-393; also BG 11.69 [and M 1.260]). Life is an 
“awakening” from nonexistence; “sleep” is an awakening from life. 

What availeth me to sleep and wake? 

If to sleep unsleeping the way is seen. 

Ah, then / see it availeth me. 

Tayumanavar (P. Arunachalam, “Luminous Sleep,” 
reprinted from the Westminster Review, 

Colombo, 1903). 

10 Lit. “aught and naught,” and here “good and evil” rather than “real and un¬ 
real”; cf. puny am ca papam ca in BU iv.3.5 and sadasat in MU m.i. 

11 “God enjoys eternalwise the contingency of things. . . . The knower being that 
which is known” (Meister Eckhart, Evans ed., 1 , 391, 394). “The mind of the Sage 
at rest becomes the mirror of the universe” ( Chuang-tzu, p. 158). 


52 


RECOLLECTION 


will become clearer when we deal with jatavedas and jatissaro and if we 
bear in mind that though he speaks of former births, the Lord is for him 
“the only transmigrant.” 12 

The subject of Memory is discussed in Mil 78-80. It is first shown that it 
is not by thinking {citta) but by Memory (sati — smrti) that we remem¬ 
ber; for we are not without intelligence even when what was done long 
ago has been forgotten (pamuttham = pramrstam). It is then asked, 
“Does Memory arise ( appajjati) always as an over-knowledge state (sabba 
. . . abhijanarta ) 1S or is Memory factitious {katumika — kj-tima), and 
answered that “Memory occurs as an over-knowledge state, and is also 
factitious,” i.e., it may be either spontaneous or artificially stimulated." 
The king rejoins, “That amounts to saying that all Memory is over-know¬ 
ing, never factitious.” Nagasena replies, “In that case, craftsmen would 
have no need of workshops or schools of art or science, and masters would 
be useless; which is not true.” So the king asks, “In how many ways does 
Memory arise?” Nagasena answers, “Sixteen.” 15 These are really only 
two ways, either by over-knowing without means (abhijanato), or by 

12 See Coomaraswamy, “On the One and Only Transmigrant" [in this volume— 

ED.]. 

13 Abhi in abhijna intensifies jhd, to know (yiyvtiiaKio, voc'iu, kennen, cunning): 
to remember is something more than simply to perceive; cf. Meister Eckhart’s “I 
can see a rose in winter when no rose is there." Hence, while abhijna can mean 
just "remember” or “understand” (Panini 111.2.112, abhijanasi = smarasi, budhyase\ 
Mil 77, abhijanasi, “Did you ever remember?”), in Pali Buddhism generally the 
sense of the marvellous predominates, and abhihna = abhijanana is usually the 
supernatural knowledge or omniscience of a Buddha, an iddhi acquired by con¬ 
templative discipline and which he or other Arhats can “intuit” ( anubhit ) at will. 
In this sense abhihha includes the six powers of levitation (motion at will through 
the air), clairaudience, thought-reading, knowledge of one’s own and of other peo¬ 
ple’s former births, and assurance that liberation has been attained (D 111.281, based 
on many other contexts, PTS Dictionary, s.v.). It is noteworthy that “over-knowing” 
and "liberation” coincide, reminding one of Meister Eckhart’s “Not till the soul 
knows all that there is to be known can she pass over to the unknown good.” 

Abhijna does not appear in the Upanisads; in BG it is always only used of “know¬ 
ing” Krishna—certainly an “over-knowing" and not an empirical experience. [Alter¬ 
natively, one “remembers" Krishna, BG vm.5.] 

14 The Milindapanha categories are not quite the same as those of the previously 
cited texts, in which abhijna does not appear. But it is made very clear that all 
learning is really re-cognition, i.e., re-collection. 

lo I.e., one abhijanato and the rest katumika. This must have something to do with 
the well-known doctrine of the “sixteen parts” of which the “Self" is the sixteenth 
(BU 1.5.15) and that part “with which you now understand ( anubhavasi) the Vedas” 
(CU vi.7.6). [Cf. The Gospel oj Sri Ramakyishna, tr. Swami Nikhilananda, New 
York, 1942, p. 367.] On the number “16,” cf. E.J.H. MacKay, Chanhu-Daro Excava¬ 
tions (1935-1936), pp. 240-241 ( American Oriental Series, Vol. 20, 1943). 


53 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

external stimulation (, \atumi\a ), the total of sixteen being made up by 
a subdivision of the second category according to the nature of the means. 
Thus Memory occurs by over-knowledge simply when such as Ananda 
or others who are “birth-rememberers” ( jatissara ) 16 remember a birth 
(jdtim saranti ): it occurs factitiously when those who are naturally forget¬ 
ful (muttha-ssatikp = mrsta -) 11 are constrained or stimulated to remem¬ 
ber by another person (or thing), e.g., when one recognizes a relative by 
likeness, or cattle by their brands, 18 or reads letters or numbers, or con¬ 
sults a book, or intuitively ( anubhiitato ), as when one remembers what 
has already been seen or heard (without being “reminded” of it). Memory, 
in any case, is a latent power. 

Thus what we think we “learn,” but really “remember,” implies that in 
intuition directly, and in learning indirectly, we are really drawing upon 
or, as the older texts would express it, “milking” an innate prescience 
(prajndna = irpovota, v-popr/deia). In D 1.19-22 we are told that the gods 
fall from heaven only when their “memory fails, and they are of con¬ 
fused memory” ( salt mussati, satiyd sammosa) ; those whose mind remains 

16 This refers to the supernormal faculty of remembering past "habitations,” as 
possessed by a Buddha or other Arhat, and is to be distinguished from the memory 
of a former habitation by an ordinary brother, whose memory of the past is in¬ 
cluded in the list of factitious rememberings because means are employed to evoke 
it. The supernormal power is exercised at will by a Buddha and extends to the 
recollection of any birth whatever, however remote; the brother who is not yet an 
Arhat can only, by a step-by-step procedure, recover the memory of one or more 
births, but no more (Vis 411): in the first case the all-seeing view is, as it were, from 
the center of a circle, whence all “moments" within or upon the circumference can be 
seen at a glance; the second case is that of a being whose range is naturally confined 
to motion along the circumference itself (i.e., in time, so far as memories are con¬ 
cerned), who cannot see forward or backward immediately but can only predict by 
inference or recover the past by successive steps—he can look inward by analogy, 
but has neither foresight nor hindsight nor insight, unless suprarationally and by 
inspiration. The Buddha has “prior knowledge of the ultimate beginning (aganham 

■ . . pajanami), and more than that" (D 111.28); his range is infinite ( anantagocaram, 
Dh 179); but it is as the Buddha, the Wake, not as this man Gotama, now waking 
and now sleeping, that he is thus omniscient ( sabbahnu = sarvajha ), and similarly 
in the case of others. This amounts to saying that Buddha = Paramatman. 

17 TS vn.6.10.4, madya , is glossed by vismrtyonmatta , “oblivious,” "in a state of 
amnesia.” Sn 815, mussati, is explained by nassati, “perishes” (SnA 536); and 
parimussati is paribahiro hoti, i.e., “wholly forgets” is to be “alienated” (Vis 44). 

I infer that amnesia was a known malady, and further that all forgetfulness was 
thought of as a madness of the same kind, only the Buddha and other Arhats being 
perfectly sane. 

18 Cf. CU vii.13.1, "recognize cattle," cited above. On cattle brands see Pohath- 
Kehelpannala in Ceylon National Review, I (1907), 334, and John Abbott, The 
Keys of Power (New York, 1932), p. 140, and figs. 19-21 and 52. 

54 



RECOLLECTION 

uncorrupted, and do not forget, are “steadfast, immutable, eternal, of a 
nature that knows no change, and will remain so for ever and ever”; and 
such, likewise, is the liberated ( vimutto) Buddha’s prescience ( pajanand ), 
or foreknowing, “on which, however, he lays no stress” ( tarn ca pajdnanam 
na paramasati) . 10 It is significant, in the first place, that what is thus said 
of the Buddha is, as so often happens, only a paraphrase of what has al¬ 
ready been said of Agni, who “does not forget the prior nor the latter 
word, but is not vainglorious by reason of his counsel” (na mrsyate pra- 
thamam ndparam vaco'sya hjatva sacate apradrptdah , RV 1.145.2)."" And 
secondly, that for Plato also it is precisely a failure to remember that 
drags down from the heights the soul that has walked with God (Oetn 
£wo7raSds = brahmacari) and had some vision of the truths, 21 but cannot 
retain it (Phacdrus 248c, cf. Plotinus, iv.4.7 ff.). 22 

la I.e., na paramr'sati, and rendered by Rhys Davids, “he is not puffed up”; in a 
similar context, D 111.28, na paramdsdmi (cf. M 1.433 f° r this word) is rendered by 
“I do not pervert it"—“I am not attached to it” might be better. That these are 
the right connotations seems to follow from the Vedic parallel cited above. It will 
be because his prescience is “of far more than that” ( tato ca uttarataritaram pajd- 
nami, M 1.433 and D 111.28), rather than because such knowledge is not essential 
to liberation (M 1.277), 'hat it is not overvalued; there are other than cosmic pos¬ 
sibilities. 

On the distinctions of gnosis amongst the gods in the Brahma worlds, cf. A 
iv.74 ff.: some arc content with its beatitudes, others are prescient ( pajdnanti) of 
an absolute liberation. 

20 Suggestive of Agni’s epithet satya-vdc, “whose word is truth," RV 111.26.9, 
vn.2.3; cf. Pali sacca-vaca, sacca-vadin. “The flower and fruit of speech is truth” 
(AA 11.2.6 [or “meaning,” Nirupta l.iol). Prathamam ndparam may well mean 
“eternal” rather than “earlier and latter”; cf. BU 11.5.19, apurvam anaparam = 
Paradiso, xxix.20, ne pritna ne poscia. 

Agni, \rdtvd . . . apradrpitah, contrasts with the Indra of BD 7.54, svena vtryena 
darpitah, until he is reawakened by Saptagu-Brhaspati = Agni and comes to himself 
again. The Sacerdotium is not intoxicated by knowledge, but the Regnum may be 
intoxicated by power. 

21 Few retain an adequate memory of them ( Phacdrus 250A). 

22 The gods do not sometimes forget and sometimes remember—“such memory 
is for those who have lost it.” The omniscience of Zeus docs not depend on ob¬ 
servation, but on the innate gnosis of his own unlimited life. Cf. Ibn 'Ata, "Openly 
the heart’s eye then beholds him, and doth scorn remembrance, as a burden hardly 
to be borne,” quoted by Abu Bakr, Kitdb al Ta'arruj, ch. 47 [cf. Paradiso xxix.79 ff.]. 
For Aristotle, too, the Divine Mind “does not remember,” as does the perishable 
mind, which is reminded by its sense perceptions (De anima 3.5). “In the heart 
one knows the truth, in the heart alone, forsooth, is truth established” (BU 111.9.23); 
die soul’s recognition of the visions stored up in her is the process of “remembering” 
(Enneads iv.7.10, 12). When everything has been remembered, once and for all, 
then there is no more remembering as a process, but only an immemorial knowledge. 
The disparagement of memory will not, then, be misunderstood; one might say 

55 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


No less striking is the fact that mosa, musa ( mrsd ), “false,” is regularly 
opposed to saccam ( satyam ), “true”; and since this musa, mrsa derives 
from mussati, mrs, to “ignore,” “forget,” “overlook,” it is clear that “not- 
true” coincides with “forgotten,” In the same way, although conversely, 
Xijfbj is “oblivion,” “forgetting,” and aX-qdeia “truth,” or literally “not- 
forgetting.” Accordingly, 6 aX-qOms ovpavoy ( Phaedo 109E) is not merely 
“true, or real, heaven” but also “heaven where there is no forgetting,” and 
where, by the same token, the gods “never learn” because there is nothing 
ever absent from their ken (Plotinus, iv.4.7); in the same way Plato’s to 
aX-qOeiag ireSiov is not merely “plain of truth” but also “land of no for¬ 
getting,” and the opposite of Aristophanes’ to X-qd-qs ireSlop, “land of 
oblivion” ( The Frogs , 186). Lethe, too, is one of Discord’s deadly brood 
(Hesiod, Theogony 227), and still for Shakespeare means “death”; so 
that the “land of nor-forgetting” is also the “land of immortality.” In the 
sense that we are what we know, and that to be and to know are the same 
(to yap amo vo&v err tip ts kcu ehai),“ recollection is life itself, and 
forgetfulness a lethal draught. 

So far, it is clearly implied that Memory is a kind of latent knowledge, 21 

that, like “consciousness” in the Buddhist parable of the Raft, remembering is 
“good for crossing over, but not an activity to be clung to." To remember is a virtue 
in those who have forgotten, but the perfected never lose their vision of the truth 
and have no need to recall it ( Phaedrus 249CD, cf. Proclus as discussed in n. 25). 

Sister M. P. Garvey, St. Augustine, Christian or Nco-Platonist (Milwaukee, Wis., 
1939), (p- 107, confuses memory with remembering, as one might being with be¬ 
coming. Memory, taken absolutely, coincides with omniscience and is not a pro¬ 
cedure; but remembering is learning and would be a contradiction in one whose 
memory never fails. This is, in fact, Philo’s distinction of memory (/ivqiivq) from 
recollection (dvd/u/^cris), the latter being a means of escape (Ik kqdqs ), but evi¬ 
dently needless as such on the part of one whose memory has never lapsed 
( Lcgum allegoriac 111.91-93). This distinction, if I am not mistaken, is that of 
smara from smarana , the former denoting love as well as memory, and the 
latter the act of remembering, which implies a desiring or seeking rather than a 
loving. 

23 Hermann Diels, ed., Die Fragmente der Vorsokyatiker (Berlin, 1903), fr. i8b 5. 
Cf. MU vi.34.3, yac cittas tanmayo bhavati, “What is one’s thought, that he becomes,’’ 
and St. Augustine, Confessions xui.ll, “esse, nosse, velle ... in his tribus . . . et una 
vita mens et una essentia.” 

21 “A fund of omniscience exists eternally in our heart” (Mahavairocana-bhisam- 
bodhi, cited by R. Tajima from the Taisko (Tripitaka, XVIII, 380.20). This “fund” 
corresponds to the Alayavijhana (“Hoard of Discernment”), which is to be dis¬ 
tinguished from all specific (singular) discernments, and identified with the “Com¬ 
pendious Providence” ( vijnana-ghana, prajnana-ghana ) of the Upani?ads, and with 
the form of God's knowledge in Christian theology, where his knowledge of him¬ 
self is his knowledge of all things. [Cf. Enneads, iv.7.10,12, on the “eternal science” 
latent within you.] 


56 


RECOLLECTION 


which may be either self-revealing or revived by an appropriate externa! 
sign, for example, when we are “taught,” or more truly “re-minded.” 
There is a clear distinction of mere perception from recognition, whether 
or not evoked by the percept. Memory is a re-covery or re-experiencing 
(pratyanubhu, Prasna Up. iv.5), and it may be observed that the other 
supernatural powers ( iddhi ) which can be experienced at will by the 
Arhat are similarly called “recoveries” ( patihara , \Jprati-hr). It is evi¬ 
dently not, then, the outer, aesthetic self, but an inner and immanent 
power, higher than that of the senses, that remembers or foreknows 
(prajha ), by a “fore” knowledge that is rather “prior” with respect to 
all empirical means of knowing than merely “fore” with respect to future 
events —unde non praevidentia sed pro videntia potius dicitur (Boethius, 
De consolatione philosophiae v.6.69, 70). That which remembers, or 
rather which is always aware of all things, must be a principle always 
present to ( anubhii ) all things, and therefore itself unaffected by the dura¬ 
tion in which these events succeed one another. 25 We arc thus reduced to 
a Providence ( prajha, irpovoLa) 2 * or Providential Self or Spirit ( prajhat - 
man) as the ultimate source on which all Memory draws, and with which 

25 “He knows, but it is not by means of anything other than himself that he 
knows," BU iv.5.15, etc. This is essentially also the Christian doctrine about the 
divine manner of knowing, cf. St. Thomas, Sum. Thcol. 1.14. [note Euripides, 
Helen, 1015-1017.] 

Cf. Phaedrus 247F.fi., “Knowledge, but not such knowledge as has a beginning 
and varies as it is associated with (c’v . . . ova a = anubhavati) the things we now 
call realities, but that has its being in the reality that is." The soul that can always 
hold this vision remains inviolable; but even of those who have seen it, “few are 
possessed of a consistent memory.” 

“Every God has an undivided knowledge of things divided and a timeless 
knowledge of things temporal; he knows the contingent without contingency, the 
mutable immutably, and in general all things in a higher mode than belongs to 
their station" (Proclus, Elements of Theology 124, cf. E. R. Dodds’ cd., Oxford 
[reprinted 1963], p. 226). The gods of Proclus are, of course, the angels of Dionysius 
the Areopagite and of Christian theology in general. 

26 To employ the word “Providence” correctly, it must always be remembered 
that the foreknowing principle is that which gives being, and only indirectly a 
manner of being. It is much rather Fate (the operation of mediate causes, karma) 
that “allots” or “provides for" the being of things as they are, than Providence, 
which is the timeless witness of this operation. The divine foreknowing is not, as 
such, a transitive act, but the act of being, prior to all becomings, of which it knows 
because it is the only real subject in them all. 

Thus in Dodds’ Proclus, Elements of Theology, p. 126, “for which it (Providence) 
provides” should read “of which it is provident.” Fate inheres in time, Providence is 
ex tempore, and these are as much to be distinguished as are mediate causes from 
a first cause. [Cicero, De natura Deorum n.xxix, confuses prudence and provi¬ 
dence! St. Thomas, Sum. Theol. 1.23.2: “Providence is not anything in the things 
provided for; but a type in the mind of the provider”—therefore, not fate. 


57 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

whoever attains to the same uninterrupted omniscience must be identified, 
as in Prasna Up. iv.io. 

We have already seen that there is such an omniscient Self, the fount of 
Memory (CU vn.26.1, MU vi.7; cf. 1 Cor. 2:11), and it is repeatedly affirmed 
that this immortal, spiritual, fore-knowing solar Self of all beings, whose 
presence is undivided in things divided (BG xm.15, 16), 27 is our real Self, 
to be distinguished from the contingent Ego, an apparently unanimous 
(except in cases of schizophrenia) aggregate of powers of perception and 
action which are “only the names of His acts” (BU 1.4.7, MU n.6d, etc.). 
The providential principle, in other words, is the immanent Spirit, the 
Knower of the field, apart from whom on the one hand no birth could 
take place (BG xm, etc.), and apart from whom, as only seer, hearer, 
thinker, etc. in us (BU m.7.23, etc.), neither experience nor memory 
could be conceived. 28 We see also that the verification of the words, “That 
art thou,” must involve at the same time liberation and omniscience. 

The connection of omniscience with birth implied above is significant. 
latissaro, cited above from Mil 78, in fact immediately suggests the older 
epithet Jatavedas, Agni’s because “he knows all births” ( yisva veda janima, 
RV vi.15.13; jatanam veda, AB 11.39), an d the term jatavidya , knowledge 
of births, or genealogy. 20 It is because TanU-napat (Agni-Prajapati) be¬ 
comes the immanent Breaths or Powers of the Soul (cf. SB 1.8.3.2; TS 
11.1.1.3, 4; JUB iv.2.6; MU 11.6a, b, etc.) and is thus “his offspring’s witness” 
{prajandm upadrasta-, cf. JB 111.261, agmr jajrie ... aupadrastryaya) that the 
gods through him “know the mind of man” (SB in.4.2.5-7). 30 How should 
He “who faces all ways” ( visvatomuk.ha , RV 1.97.6) and is “of many 
births” (bhuri-janmd, RV x.5.1), he who is the “universal life” ( visvayu , 
RV 1.27.3, ar| d passim) or “mover of universal life” (RV vm.43.25), and 
who assumes all forms ( visvarupa , RV 111.38.4), not be also the “All- 
knower” ( vi’svavit , RV m.29.7; visvavedas, RV m.20.4, and passim )? 

27 As in Dionysius, De divinibus nominibus xii.11. 

28 Cf. Heb. 4:13. The recollected and regenerated man is “ renewed in knowledge 
after the image of him who created him” (Col. 3:10). 

29 For the Knower of Births in divinis this will mean the “genealogy” of all 
things always; in the case of the human priest, his mortal analogue, who vadati 
iatavidyam (RV x.71.11), the genealogy will have to do with a particular line of 
descent (santana). 

30 The all-seeing Sun and the myriads of the solar “rays” or “eyes” [feet or 
hands] diat become the immanent Breath and the Breaths, our interior powers of 
which the sense organs are the instruments (JUB 1.28; MU vi.8, etc.) are precisely 
“die gotdicher Spiiher, die der Menschen Thaten erschauen” (Grassmann), RV 
passim. 


58 


RECOLLECTION 


Agni, Jatavedas, is the Breath (AB 11.39, SB 11.2.2.15): “those of whose 
births he knows, they verily come to be ( bhavanti ), but of those whose 
births he knoweth not, how might they exist?” (AB 11.39); “in that it is 
the Breath that mounts (quickens) the emitted semen and knows it, there¬ 
fore He knows whatever is born” (SB ix.5.1.68). Being omniprogenitive, 
the Spirit is omnipresent; and being omnipresent, necessarily omniscient. 

This immanent Breath (or “Life”) is, moreover, Vamadeva (AA n.2.1), 
who says of himself, “Being now 31 in the womb ( garbhe nu san) I have 
known all the births of the gods” (RV iv.27.1; AA 11.5); “thus spake 
Vamadeva, lying in the womb" ( garbhe ... saydnah, A A 11.5) . 32 As Agni, 
etc., engendered in all things in motion or at rest ( garbhas ca sthdtdm 
garbhas caratham), the Only Transmigrant 83 knows the operations of the 
gods and the births of men, and is besought to ward (ni pdhi) their births 
(RV 1.70.1-3); as Gandharva 34 Soma-guardian “he wards (pdti) the 
generations of the gods” (RV ix.83.4), and as the All-seeing ( vi'svam 
abhi caste, RV vn.61.1), the Self of all that is in motion or at rest (RV 
1.115.1) and our true Father (JUB m.10.4), he is, as aforesaid, the “Knower 
of births” (RV 1.50.1). As Krishna, “Self abiding in all beings” {aham 
atma ... sarva-bhutasaya-sthitah, BG x.20; cf. Heb. 4:12, 13) he knows all 
their births ( janmani . . . tiny aham veda sarvani, BG rv.5). 

This is not a knowledge of successive events, but of all at once—“Dove 
s’appunta ogni ubi ed ogni quando ... che ne prima ne poscia procedette” 
(Paradiso xxix.n, 20; Svet. Up. 1.2). The Person of whom all things are 
born, the Lord of Immortality ( amrtatvasyesanah ), “when he rises up on 
food” 35 ( yad annenati rohati) becomes “all this, both what hath been 

31 Vedic nu, like sakrt, “once for all,” “nowever.” Similarly the gnomic aorist, 
“I have known.” 

32 As in BU 11.5.18, purisaya\ pura, as in Plato ttoAis, being “body,” and saya 
or sayana etymologically civis. Paul Deussen ( Scchzig Upanishads des Veda, Leipzig, 
1897, p. 606) has pointed out that the doctrine of a knowledge within the womb 
that is lost at birth, enunciated in Garbha Up. 3.4, corresponds to the Platonic doc¬ 
trine that all “learning” is really recollection; cf. the Hebrew sources cited on 
pp. 63-64. [Similarly, Udayana’s view in the 10th-century Kusumanjalv, see A. B. 
Keith, Indian Logic and Atomism (Oxford, 1921), pp. 31, 269 (he calls the view 
“quaint”).] 

33 See Coomaraswamy, “On the One and Only Transmigrant” [in this volume— 

ED.]. 

34 The progenitive solar deity, as in M 1.265,266, gandhabbo, apart from whom 
the union of human parents is sterile. 

35 When he “comes eating and drinking” (Luke 7:34). "That Golden Person in 
the Sun ... is even He who dwells within the lotus of the heart and eats food” (MU 
vt.r). “Food” in this context is not, of course, merely “solid food,” but whatever 
fuel feeds die fires of life, whether physical or mental. 


59 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


and what shall be” (RV x.90.2, cf. 1.25.10-12; Svet. Up. m.15). 36 “That 
God (Atman and Brahma of the preceding verses), indeed, fills all quar¬ 
ters of the Sky, aforetime was he born, and he is within the womb. He 
alone hath been born, will be born. He standeth toward men, facing all 
ways” (Svet. Up. 11.16). “Other than past and future . . . Lord of what 
hath been and shall be, he alone is today and tomorrow” (KU 1.14, iv.13). 
That Great Being is All-knowing, just because All things originate in 
him (Sarikaracarya on BrSBh 1.1.3, BU 11.4.10). In divinis, Brahma is the 
lightning flash, which reveals all things instantaneously; and within you, 
“that which comes to mind, and by which it instantly remembers” ( upas- 
maraty abhi\snam, JUB iv.21.4, 5 = Kena Up. iv.4.5). [Cf. Plato, Epistle 
viii, 341D, “sometimes this knowledge does blaze forth with a most in¬ 
stantaneous flash. . . .”] 

There has thus been clearly established, in the Indian sources, a logical 
connection of Omniscience, an unbroken Memory of all things, with 
temporal and spatial omnipresence. 37 Only from this point of view can 
the notion of a “Providence” be made intelligible, the divine life being 
uneventful, not in the sense that it knows nothing of what we call events, 
but inasmuch as all of the events of what are for us past and future times 
are present to it now, and not in a succession. It is just at this point that 
we can most advantageously turn to consider the similar Platonic doctrine 
“that we do not learn, and that what we call learning is recollection” 
(ort ov ij.av 0 d.vofj.tv, dXXd rjv KO.Xovfj.ev fidOrfonv dvdfj.vr)cris ierri), and 
that there is “no teaching, but only recollection” (o? ov cfjtffu. 818ay-ijv 

36 There is a significant doctrine of past ( bhutam ) and future ( bhavyam ). Past is 
to future as Sky, Day, Sun, Sacerdotium {brahma), Reality ( satyam ), and Certainty 
are to Earth, Night, Moon, Regnum satra ), Unreality {anrtam), and Uncertainty 
(AV 11.15; SB 11.3.1.25). These are progenitive pairs, respectively m. and f., differen¬ 
tiated here but coincident in divinis. Man is generated (prajayate) and increases from 
the clash or conjugation {maithunam) of real and unreal (AA 11.3.6); or as we might 
put it, man is the child of past and future. It is our uninterrupted genesis that sepa¬ 
rates these contraries; their reunion taking place only upon condition of our ceasing 
to become, so as to be what we are (“That art thou”), now, sub specie aeternitatis. 

37 It is, of course, “only as it were with a part of himself” (BG xv.7) that the Su¬ 
preme Identity of Being and Nonbeing can be thought of as Omnipresent, Omniform, 
Omniscient. For Omniscience can be only of the possibilities and actuality of mani¬ 
festation: of what remains {ucchistam, AV xi.7, etc.) there can be neither science 
nor omniscience, and it is from diis point of view that, as Erigena jusdy remarks, 
“God does not know what he is, because he is not any what” (cf. Buddhist akim- 
canna). It is only his possibilities of manifestation that become “whats” of which 
there can be science or omniscience. 


60 


RECOLLECTION 


etvai aXX’ dvd/jvr/criv, Meno 8ie, 82a; cf. Phaedrus 278A). 38 Taking for 
granted Plato’s repeated distinction of mortal and immortal “souls” that 
dwell together in us, 30 and assuming further that the immortal is not an 
individual but a universal principle “participated in” by the individual, 
not as a thing divided up but as one of which we can know—and be— 
according to the measure of our ability to “know our selves,” 40 we proceed 
to cite the main text, that of Meno 8icd. 

“Seeing, then, that Soul [ 0 ed? of Laws 897s] is immortal and has been 
born many times, and has beheld all things both in this world and in 
Hades, she has learnt all things, without exception; so that it is no wonder 
that she should be able to remember all that she knew before 41 about virtue 

38 It is in accordance with this doctrine that Plato takes it for granted that the 
function of works of art is to remind us of the eternal realities ( Phacdo 74 fl., 
Phaedrus 278a) ; cf. MU vi.34, fin., where for those who do not sacrifice, or know, 
or contemplate, "the remembrance ( smarana, [docta ignorantia ]) of the heavenly 
abode of Brahma (i.e., brahmalo\a) is obstructed.” "It is the unknown, methinks, 
that thou shouldst remember” {atha nu mimamsyam eva te manyc 'viditain, JUB 
iv.19.1). In the iconography of Siva, the demon on whom he tramples is called “the 
person of amnesia” {apasmara purusa). 

30 Timaeus 69D, 90AC, Republic 430, 604a; the Immortal Soul being the “real 
Self” of Laws 959a. That this Soul has never become anyone is clear from Meno 
8ib, where the hieratic doctrine is cited, that “the Soul of Man is immortal, and at 
one time reaches an end, which is called ‘dying,’ and is ‘born again,' but is never 
slain.” This is almost identical with BU iv.4.5,6, BG 11.13 and 17-26, Plato’s ottoA- 
Xvcrdai S’ ovSewore corresponding to na hanyate hayamanc satire and a oij atro- 
dvi/OKtiv KaXovcn to nityam va mrtam. In the same way Phacdo 83BC, “the Self of 
(all) beings” (avro rwv ovtoiv) and "Soul of every man” ( ‘/'t’XV ’rovros avSpihwov, 
Fowler’s version, preferable to Jowett’s “every soul of man”), corresponds to the “Self 
of all beings" {sarvesam bhutanam alma, BU 1.4.16) of the Upanisads. Cf. Phaedrus 
246B, TrS.ua fi if/vxn iravTO<;, and 249E; and Hermes, Lib. x.7, i/niyf/ to6 ire ivt6s. 
Particular attention may also be called to Phacdo where we are told, not that 
“our souls existed before we were born,” but that “the soul of us ( r/gibv r/ i/'t>x?j) 
existed before we were born.” There is a parallel in the Buddhist Vinaya, 1.23 (i.e., 
Mv 1.14, cf. Vis 393), where the Buddha asks a group of young men who are search¬ 
ing for a missing woman, “Which were the better for you, to go seeking the woman, 
or to go seeking the Self; he does not say “your selves.” In both cases the reference 
is to the unique principle of many individuals. [Cf. Boehme, Signatura rerum ix.65.] 

40 “Philosophy . . . admonishing the soul to collect and assemble herself in her 
Self, and to throw in nothing but her Self, that she may know her Self itself, the 
Self of (all) beings” {Phaedo 83a). Cf. Coomaraswamy, “The ‘E’ at Delphi” [in 
this volume —ed.], and Hinduism and Buddhism, 1943, pp. 15-18, 58. 

41 The doctrine of Recollection recurs in the Koran (vr.8o), and permeates Ruml’s 
Mathnawi (see Anamnesis in Nicholson’s subject index). Mathnawi iv.3632-3635 
runs, "What wonder, then, if the spirit does not remember its ancient abodes, which 
have been its dwelling place and birthplace aforetime, since this world, like sleep, 


61 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

and other things. And since all Nature is congeneric, there is no reason 
why we should not, by remembering but one single thing 42 —which is 
what we call ‘learning’—discover all the others, if we are brave and faint 
not in the enquiry; for it seems that to enquire and to learn are wholly 
a matter of remembering.” 43 The same doctrine is discussed in P/iaedo 


is covering it over as clouds cover the stars? Especially as it has trodden so many 
cities, and the dust has not yet been swept from its perceptive faculty, nor has it 
made ardent efforts that its heart should become pure and behold the past; that 
its heart should put forth its head from the aperture of the mystery and should see 
the beginning and the end with open eye.” The wording is suggestive of Indian 
rather than Platonic derivation. The connected doctrine that God is the real agent 
and man only his instrument, as expressed, for example, in the Mantiqu't-Tair, 

All you have been, and seen, and done, and thought, 

Not you, but /, have seen and been and wrought 

is equally Indian (JUB 1.5.2, MU 111.2, BG 111.27, etc.) and Neo-Platonic (Philo, De 
opificio mundi 78, etc.). 

42 Cf. Timaeus 50AB, and CU vi.1.4, “That teaching ( dde'sam) whereby what has 
not been heard of becomes heard of, what has not been thought of becomes thought 
of, what has not been known becomes known of. . . . Just as by one piece of clay 
everything made of clay may be known of, the modification being only a matter of 
naming, and the reality ( satyam) just clay.” Cf. BU iv.5.6. [Socrates claims to know 
everything always by means of his soul, Euthydemus 295 ff.] 

48 “Virtue" (dperq) is the subject under discussion. The Dialogue does not de¬ 
cide what “virtue” is; it is neither natural nor taught, nor is it prudence (^povijo-ts), 
but a thing “that comes to us by a divine dispensation ( Meno 98E, 99E ff.). It is a thing 
to be remembered, which remembrance is properly called “learning” (/idOi/mi , cf. 
liae-qTT/s, disciple, sravakq)-. whence it follows that ignorance, or rather "want of 
learning" (h/xadia, cf. Pali assutava putthujana = profane ot iroWo'i), the ignorance 
that is so disgraceful ( Apology 29B, Phacdrus 277E), is really “forgetfulness”; cf. 
Skr. a'sruta, “untaught,” and asruti, "oblivion.” For Hermes, “the soul's vice is ig¬ 
norance (dyiwtct) and her virtue (apery) gnosis” (Lib. x.8.9, cf. 13.7B); and that, 
I think, is just what Socrates means to imply, namely, that virtue is a function of 
self-knowledge (Skr. atmajhana), and can be theirs only who “know themselves.” 

The traditional “ignorance” has nothing, of course, to do with what we call “il¬ 
literacy.” The exaggerated value that we attach to "literature” as such would have 
been, indeed, for Plato, in itself an evidence of “ignorance” (Phaedrus 275, 278); [cf. 
Laws 689, “only those should govern who are masters of themselves, not those who 
are merely literate or otherwise expert”]. Ignorance is “subjection to pleasure,” or 
what amounts to the same thing, “subjection to oneself” (To chat avrov, 

Protagoras 357E, 358c; cf. Republic 430E ff.); ignorance is of what is just and what 
unjust ( Phaedrus 277E); nothing is worse than to think one knows what one does 
not know ( Apology 29B). It is the Self that should be known (TvuiSi treavrov): 
for when the Self is seen, is heard, thought of and known, this All is known (BU 
iv.5.6). Whereas to put our trust in the written characters, which are not a part 
of our Self, is a hindrance to that recollection that is in and of the Self (Phaedrus 
275A). 


62 



RECOLLECTION 

72Eff., and 75E, where “we must necessarily have learned in some prior 
time what we now remember. But this is impossible if the Soul in us had 
not existed anywhere before being born in this human nature; and so 
by this consideration it appears again that the Soul is immortal”; as in 
Meno 86ab, “if in us the truth of all things be the Soul, then Soul must 
be ‘immortal’ for it knows things of which we could not have acquired 
knowledge in this life and ‘must have had this learning through all time’ 
(otl top iravra xpovov) ” 4J [cf. rrpos top tjvp. uclpto. ypwov, Timaeus 36E] . 
Following Meno 81, Socrates goes on to give a practical demonstration by 
educing from rather than communicating to a pupil, knowledge which 
he did not appear to possess; and this seems to show that all true educa¬ 
tion is rather a destruction of ignorance 45 than the gift of a knowledge, a 
view that is in close agreement with what is called in India the “self-mani¬ 
festation” nature (sva-pra\asatva) of the intellectual principle. 

Plato’s Immortal Soul, “the most lordly and divine part of us” (Timaeus 
90AB), can be only the immanent Daimon, “that vulgar fellow, who cares 
for nothing but the truth” (Hippias major 286d). It is Philo’s “Soul of 
the soul”; the Sanctus Spiritus as distinguished from the (mortal) “soul” 
(Heb. 4:12) and “source of all that is true, by whomsoever it has been 
said” (St. Ambrose on 1 Cor. 12:3, cited by St. Thomas Aquinas, Sum. 
Thcol. 1-11.109.1); the Scholastic Speculum Aeternum 46 and Synteresis, 47 
Dante’s Amor (Purgatorio xxix.52-54), and our own “conscience” (E.E. 
“inwyt”) in the original and fullest sense of the word; and the Immortal 
Self, the source of Memory, of the Vedanta. 

We meet the doctrine of recollection also in Hebrew contexts. In the 
Talmud (Nidda 30B) and Zohar (Wayyiqra, Aharei Mot), we are told 
that all human souls have a full knowledge of the Torah, etc. (see n. 32), 

44 Here again “soul” in the singular, “we” plural. But elsewhere we find (im¬ 
mortal) “souls” in the plural (Phacdo 76). Both uses are consistent with the view 
that all souls are facets of one Soul, which I think was Plato’s belief, as it was cer¬ 
tainly that of Plotinus and Hermes. 

45 Not that ignorance is “real” (in which case it could not be “destroyed”), but as 
darkness (privation of light) it is removed by illumination. Pali texts often employ 
this illustration: when the Buddha has cleared up some problem by his argament, 
“it is just as if a lamp were brought into a dark room.” 

46 "Wherein those who gaze behold all things, and better than elsewhere” (St. 
Bonaventura, I Sent, d.35, a unic., q. 1, fund. 3, “sicut dicit Augustinus”); “as a clear 
mirror sees all things in one image” (Meister Eckhart, Evans ed., I, 253). 

47 Cf. O. Renz, “Die Synteresis nach dem HI. Thomas von Aquin,” in Beitrage 
zur Geschichte der Philosophic des Mittelalters, X (Munster, 1911). 

63 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

and retain all their knowledge until they come down to earth and are 
bom. Manasseh ben Israel (seventeenth century) saw here the equivalent 
of Plato’s doctrine of Recollection, for it must follow that whatever is 
learnt after birth can only amount to a recovery of this knowledge; and 
so Elimelech of Lizensk (eighteenth century) says, “By relearning the 
Torah later on for its own sake he (the child) succeeds in grasping the 
truth as it was originally implanted in him.”' 18 The implied eternity of 
“the Torah that created all the worlds and is the means by which these 
are sustained” (Zohar, Beha ‘Alothe\a) is like that of the Veda, of the 
origin of which nothing more can be said than that “the Lord” (Isvara = 
Kyrios, Demiourgos), at the beginning of each world-aeon, “remembers” 
(smrtva) it and promulgates it, and there is no ground for supposing that 
it was composed by any other standard (Apadeva).' 19 Again, the doctrine 
of Recollection is explicit in Meister Eckhart, who says: “If I knew my 
Self as intimately as I ought, I should have perfect knowledge of all crea¬ 
tures,” for “the soul is capable of knowing all things in her highest power,” 
viz. “as a clear mirror secs all things in one image,” and so “not until she 

48 For a fuller discussion of this material see J. Finkel, “A Psychoanalytic Pre¬ 
figuration in Hasidic Literature,” Eidentt, New York, 1942. Finkel justly observes 
that Elimelech's "Unconscious" is not psychological but transcendental. Cf. n. 33. 
[Eleazar of Worms (d. 1223-1232) held that a guardian angel causes forgetfulness at 
birth because if it is remembered, the contradiction of the course of the world with 
its knowledge would drive it to madness (G. G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish 
Mysticism, Jerusalem, 1941 [New York, 1954], p. 92).] 

49 Mimamsa Nyaya Prakasa 6; late, but a restatement of the oldest Purva Mi¬ 
mamsa doctrine; [cf. Purva Mimamsa Sutras 1.1.5 and BrSBh 1.3.28]. The similar 
doctrine that the Koran is “uncreated” is fundamental to Islam. 

Not to have studied (adhi) or understood ( vijha) the Veda ("wit,” as in Wycliffe’s 
version of Rom. 11:34) is utter ignorance ($A xiv). Since the dictionary meanings 
of adhi (lit. "go to”) arc to “study” or “remember,” and of smr, to “remember" or 
“teach,” all this amounts to saying that to learn is to remember. Closely related to 
this are the well-known Indian pedagogic principles of oral instruction and learning 
by heart, which arc, again, in agreement with Plato ( Phaedrus 275A, 278A). To have 
to “look up” a text implies that although we have been once reminded, we have 
again forgotten, and are no less ignorant than before. We only really \now what 
we can always quote. Hence the preference for oral instruction, which must be re¬ 
membered, if we are to possess it. Under these conditions, as also in many "primi¬ 
tive” civilizations, culture is independent of literacy, which last Plato called “a de¬ 
vice for forgetting.” Cf. Coomaraswamy, “The Bugbear of Literacy,” 1944. 

The further argument of the Purva Mimamsa, that words participate in eternity 
because they have a meaning, is entirely comprehensible from the Platonic, Aristo¬ 
telian, and Scholastic doctrine that knowledge can be only of the immutable, and 
not of any things in flux, singulars, or accidentals, which never retain their identity 
from one moment to another. In other words, perception and knowledge, facts and 
realities, are very different things. 


RECOLLECTION 

knows all that there is to be known does she (the soul) cross over to the 
Unknown Good.” 50 The doctrine survives in Blake’s “Is the Holy Ghost 
any other than an intellectual fountain?” 

We need not attempt to follow up the history of the doctrine in any 
greater detail. Our main object has been to call attention both to the 
importance and to the universality of the doctrine of Recollection, and to 
bring out that it is only one of the many consistent features of a philosophy 
that is essentially the same in Plato and in the Vedanta. 01 

30 Evans ed., I, 324, 253, 359, 385. 

51 The virtual identity of Indian and Socratic-Platonic philosophy is of far greater 
significance than the problem as more often discussed in connection with Plotinus. 
There we are dealing, not with "influences," but—just as in the case of the roots 
and idioms of the languages, Greek and Sanskrit themselves—with cognate doctrines 
and myths, many of which arc as much Sumerian as they are Greek or Indian. The 
Philosophia Perennis antedates the whole historical period within which "influences” 
can be predicated. 

For example, it is not by a borrowing but only by a long inheritance that we 
can explain the occurrence of the “cutting reed" and “clashing rock” forms of the 
"active door” (Janua Cocli) in Greece on the one hand and in Navajo and Eskimo, 
Mexican and South American, and Chinese and Indian mythology, on the other. 
Cf. R. Guenon, Introduction to the Study of the Hindu Doctrines, tr. Marco Pallis 
(London, 1945), p. 50. All mythology involves a corresponding philosophy; and if 
there is only one mythology, as there is only one “Perennial Philosophy,” then that 
“the myth is not my own, I had it from my mother” (Euripides) points to a spiritual 
unity of the human race already predetermined long before the discovery of metals. 
It may be really true that, as Alfred Jcrcmias said, the various cultures of mankind 
are no more than the dialects of one and the same spiritual language. For this point 
of view, as now entertained by a large school of anthropologists, for whom the con¬ 
cept of one “High God” antedates even the development of animism, cf. Father 
Wilhelm Schmidt, Der Ursprung der Goltesidcc (Munster, 1912-1939); The Origin 
and Growth of Religion, tr. H. J. Rose (New York, 1931); and High Gods in North 
America (Oxford, 1933). [Fundamentally, it is held in common that philosophy is 
both a way of life and a means of escape from the wheel, whereby the soul returns 
to its own.] 





ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 



On the One and Only Transmigrant 

Man is born once; I have been born many times. 

Rum! 

Bei Gottc wcrdcn nur die Gotter angenommen. 

Angelus Silesius 

Liberation is for the Gods, not for men. 

Gebhard-Lestrange 

Atmety evopasita, atra hy ete sarva e\am bhavanti 

BU 1.4.7 

N’atthi \oci satto yo imam ha \aya any am \ayam san\amati 

Mil 72, cf. 46. 


I 

SankarScarya's dictum, "Verily, there is no other transmigrant but the 
Lord” ( satyaip, nesvarad anyah samsari, BrSBh 1.1.5), 1 startling as it may 
appear to be at first sight, for it denies the reincarnation of individual 
essences, is amply supported by the older, and even the oldest texts, and is 
by no means an exclusively Indian doctrine. For it is not an individual 
soul that Plato means when he says: “The soul of man is immortal, and 
at one time comes to an end, which is called dying away, and at another 
is born again, but never perishes . . . and having been born many times 
has acquired the knowledge of all and everything”; 2 or that Plotinus 
means when he says: “There is really nothing strange in that reduction 

[This study was published in supplement No. 3 to the journal of the American 
Oriental Society, 1944.—F.D.] 

1 Cf. T.A.G. Rao, Elements of Hindu Iconography, II (Madras, 1914-1916), 
p. 405, “When Isvara absorbs in himself, he is known as the Purusa, and as Samsari 
when he has manifested himself.” Cf. n. 66. 

2 Mono 8ibc, where this is cited as the doctrine of learned priests and priestesses, 
and is approved by Socrates. Of the same sort is Agni’s omniscience as Jatavedas, 
“Knowcr of Births,” and the Buddha’s, whose abhihna extends to all “former 
abodes.” He who is "where every where and every when is focused” (Dante) can¬ 
not but have knowledge of every thing. 

66 


(of all selves) to One; though it may be asked, How can there be only 
One, the same in many, entering into all, but never itself divided up"; 3 
or by Hermes who says that “He who does all these things is One,” and 
speaks of Him as “bodiless and having many bodies, or rather present 
in all bodies.” 4 

The “Lord” of whom Sankaracarya speaks is, of course, the Supreme 
and Solar Self, Atman, Brahma, Indra, “of all beings Overlord, of all 
beings King,” whose omniformity is timeless and whose omnipresence 
enables us to understand that He must be omniscient (sarvanubhuh, 
BU 11.5.15, 19, cf. iv.4.22 and AA xm); Death, the Person in the Sun, 
Indra and Breath of Life, “One as he is Person there, and many as he 
is in his children here,” and at whose departure “we” die (SB x.5.2.13, 
16); the Solar Self of all that is in motion or at rest (RV 1.115.1); our Im¬ 
mortal Self and Inner Controller “other than whom there is no seer, hearer, 
thinker or knower” (BU ni.7.23, m.8.11); the solar Indra of whom it is 
said that whoever speaks, hears, thinks, etc., does so by his ray (JUB 1.28, 
29); Brahma, of whom it is said that our powers “arc merely the names of 
his acts” (BU 1.4.7, c f- L5.21); the Self, from whom all action stems (BU 
1.6.3; BG m.15); the Self that knows everything (MU vi.7). 6 

Whether as Surya, Savitr, Atman, Brahma, Agni, Prajapati, Indra, Vayu 
or madhyama Prana— yadrg eva dadr'se tddrg ucyate (RV v.44.6) 0 —this 
Lord, from within the heart here, 7 is our mover, driver and actuator ( in - 

3 Plotinus, iv.9.4, 5 (condensed); cf. t.l, passim. In our Self, the spiritual Self of 
all beings, all these selves and their doings are one simple act of being; hence it is 
not the separated selves and acts, but rather the Real Agent that one should seek 
to know (BU 1.4.7, Kau?. Up. 111.8, Hermes, Lib. xi.2.I2a). “Thou hast seen the ket¬ 
tles of thought a-boiling; consider also the fire!” ( Mathnau/i v.2902). 

4 Hermes, Lib. v.ioa (cf. BU 1.5.21), and X1.2.12A (cf. KU 11.22). 

5 In "Recollection, Indian and Platonic" [the preceding essay in this volume— kd.], 
we have shown that timeless omnipresence and providential omniscience are inter¬ 
dependent and inseparable notions. The related thesis of the present article is that 
the omnipresent omniscient is “the only transmigrant,” and that in the last analysis 
this “transmigration” is nothing but his knowledge of himself expressed in terms of 
a duration. If there were really “others,” or any discontinuity within the unity, 
each “other” or “part” would not be omnipresent to the rest, and the concept of an 
omniscience would be inconceivable. 

6 “He is given names that correspond exactly to the forms in which He is ap¬ 
prehended.” Cf. “All names are names of Him, who has no name, for that he is 
their common Father,” Hermes, Lib. v.ioa. 

' “Who takes up his stand in every heart” (hrdi sarvasya adhitisthan, BG xm.17); 
Questi nei cor mortali e permotore, questi la terra in se stringc cd aduna,” Dante, 
Paradiso 1.116— stringe, as in SB vm.7.3.10, etc. 

67 






MAJOR ESSAYS 


ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 


tafi, s codayitr 9 !{arayitf“) and whole source of the evanescent conscious¬ 
ness (cetana = samjhana) 11 that begins with our birth and ends with 
our death (MU ii.6d, m.3). 12 We do nothing of ourselves and are merely 
his vehicles, and instruments (as for Philo, passim). 

This “higher” (para) Brahma is that “One, the Great Self, who takes 
up his stand in womb after womb ( yo yonim yonim adhitisthati 13 e\ah 
. . . mahatma) ... as the omniform Lord of the Breaths (vi'svarupah . . . 

8 Cf. the “potter’s wheel”; cf. Mund. Up. 11.2.6; BU n.5.15; Plotinus, vi.5.5; Isa. 
64:8, etc. 

°Of the “chariot,” cf. RV vi.75.6; KU 111.3 ff.; J vi.252; Plato, Laws 898c, "Soul 
is the driver of all things." In MU 11.6, the driver's “reins” or “rays” ( rasmayah) 
are the intelligential powers ( buddhindriyani) by which the equine powers of sensa¬ 
tion (\armendriyani) are governed. Similarly, Hermes, Lib. X.22B, “The energies of 
God are, as it were, His rays,” and xvi.7, “His reins are (His rays).” Cf. Boethius, 
De consolatione philosophiac iv.n, “Hie regum sceptrum dominus tenet, Orbisque 
habenas temperat, Et volucrem currum stabilis regit, Rerum coruscus arbiter”; Math- 
nawi 1.3268, 3273, 3575 _ 3576 - "Under the theory of presence by powers, souls are 
described as rays” (Plotinus, vi.4.3). This is “the living doctrine that ascribes to 
God the totality of all powers,” and to be distinguished from “the pierced and 
cloven doctrine that is conscious of a man’s own mind at work” (Philo, Lcgum 
allegoriae, 1.93, 94). 

10 Of the "elemental self” ( bhutatman ) as “agent” (i;artr) of the Inner Man. “He 
is blind indeed who sees only the active self” (\artdram dtmanam \evala tu yah 
pasyati. . . na sa pasyati , BG xvm.r6), whereas "He sees indeed, who secs the Over¬ 
lord who is the same in all beings, imperishable in those that perish ... the Over¬ 
self who, although present in the body, neither acts nor is contaminated by action" 
(na haroti na lipyate , BG xm.27, 31). 

11 “The dead know not anything” (Eccl. 9:5). Na pretya samjhasti (BU 11.4. 12); 
saMa, bhik){have, lolfc lokadhammo , S 111.140, cf. Sn 779, 1071, and M 1.260. The 
Self is indestructible (BU iv.5.14; BG iv.13), but “consciousness" in terms of sub¬ 
ject and object is a contingency, and loses its meaning “where everything has be¬ 
come just the Self” (BU 11.4.14), "actively Itself when it is not intelligizing” (Plo¬ 
tinus, iv.4.2). 

12 “Spirit (ruh), concealing its glory and pinions and plumes, says to the body, 
‘O dunghill, who art thou ? Through my beams (cf. n. 9) thou hast come to life for 
a day or two. . . .’ The beams of the spirit are speech and eye and ear” (Mathnawi 
1.3267-3273). 

13 The body being the domain or garden (drama, BU 1V.3.T4) or platform ( adhist- 
hdnam, CU vm.12.1) of the unseen, incorporeal, and impassible Self. Adhistha 
(sometimes avastha, aruh) is regularly employed in connection with the “mounting” 
of the psycho-physical vehicle (ratha) by the Spirit ( atman ), e.g., AV x.8.1, (Brahma) 
sarvam . . . adhitisthati ; AA m.3.8.5s, prana adhitisthati ( devaratham ); KU 11.22, 
sariresv avasthitam . . . dtmanam-, BG Xiit.17, hrdi . . . adhitisthan. At the same time 
adhistha implies administration, management, as in Prasna Up. iii.d: similarly anustha 
in KU v.i. 

68 


pranadhipah ) 14 he wanders about (samcarati samsarati) 15 by his own 
actions, the fruition of which he enjoys (upabhoktr) , 16 and, being asso¬ 
ciated with conceptuality and the notion ‘1 am,’ is known as the ‘lower’ 
(apara). . . . Neither male nor female nor neuter, whatever body he as- 

11 Not, as understood by Dcusscn and Hume, the “individual soul,” which is not 
a “Lord" but a compound of the Breaths or Beings that are the subjects (svah) of the 
Great Being or Breath from which they arise and into which they return (JUB iv.7; 
MU 111.3, bhutagana) . It would be an antinomy to describe the composite individual 
soul, subject to persuasion, as a sovereign power. "The Lord of the Breaths," who is 
“the Leader of the Breaths and of the body” (pranasariranctr, Mund. Up. 11.2.8) 
is much rather the Being and Breath that is "Lord of all (prdnah . . . bhittah sarvasy- 
esvarah, AV xi.4.1.10),” the “Lord of the gods (powers of the soul) who enters the 
womb and is 'born again’ (yonim aiti sa u jdyatc punah, sa devdnam adhipatir babhti- 
va," AV xm.2.25) or "Lord of Beings” (bhutdndm adhipatih, AV iv.8.1; TS vi.1.11.4; 
MU v.2), i.e., the imperial Breath on whose behalf the “other Breaths” function as 
ministers (Prasna Up. 111.4), and the Brahma whom all things hail as king (BU 
IV - 3 - 37 )- The “Lord of the Breaths” (pranadhipah) is the Breath whose superiority to 
all the other Breaths (pranah = devah, bhutani) is again and again insisted upon in 
the contests of the Breaths for supremacy (Brahmanas and Upanisads, passim), and 
other than the subjected elemental self (bhutatman) that is a host of beings (bhuta¬ 
gana, MU 111.3). The Lord of the Breaths, “neither male nor female,” is the Breath 
thus described in AA n.3.8.5, in whom all the gods (Breaths or powers of the soul) 
are unified (AA 11; Kaus. Up. 111.3; cf. BU 1.4.7), the Breath that mounts the bodily 

vehicle and is regularly identified with the Sun, Brahma, Atman, Vamadeva, Indra, 
etc. This Lord of the Breaths is likewise the Inner Person (antahpurusa = antaratman 
of Bvet. Up. 111.13; KU v.9-13, vi.17) who wanders (carati) from body to body un- 
ovcrcome by the fruits of the actions that determine the aughty or naughty wombs 
in which the elemental self alone suffers (MU 111.1-3). 

When at death this Self recollects itself (BU iv.4.3, vi.1.13, etc.)—opos eh u- uva- 
rpeyei atroordi'ros too crolparos (Plotinus iv.9.2) then ‘we” arc no more (BU 
n.4.12, iv.4.3; CU vm.9.1, etc.), “we who in our junction with our bodies are com¬ 
posites and have qualities shall not exist, but shall be brought into the regeneration 
by which, becoming joined to immaterial things, we shall become incomposite and 
without qualities” (Philo, De cherubim 113 ff.; cf. Plato, Phaedo 78c ff.). 

15 Cf. nn. 26, 40. 

lG Upabhoktr — bhokfr in KU 111.4 (Atman) and MU 11.6 (Prajapati). This frui¬ 
tion does not necessarily involve a subjection: insofar as it remains a spectator (abhi 
ca\asiti, RV 1.1C4.20; pre\sada, MU 11.7; Pali upc\ha\d), or in other words dis¬ 
interestedly enjoys only the flavor of life (akamo . . . rasena trptah, AV x.8.44), the 
governing and immortal Self of the self, or Inner Self (amrto ’syatma, antaratman), 
remains immune (KU v.13; MU in.2, etc.). As Expericnt (bhok.tr) this immanent 
Person (puruso ’ntasthah) is himself without qualities (nirguna), while the elemen¬ 
tal self (bhutatman) with its three qualities (triguna) —i.e., the individual soul— 
is his “food” (annum, MU vi.io). The contemplative Experient is both the Giver- 
of-being and a Mighty Lord (bhoktd ca prabhur eva ca . . . bho\ta mahesvarah, 
BG ix.24, 13, 22); the All-soul that “suffers no hurt whatever by furnishing the 
body with the power to existence” (Plotinus, iv.8.2; cf. KU v.i and BG xin. 32 )- 

69 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


sumcs, therewith he is connected ( yujyate ) : 17 through the delusions of 
concept, touch, and sight, there is birth and growth of the Self by the 
rain of food and drink; 15 the embodied Self ( dehi ) 19 assumes functional 
forms in their stations in regular order ( \armanugdny anukramena dehi 
sthanesu rupany abhisampadyate) 20 . . . and because of conjunction with 

For, as Meister Eckhart says, "With the love with which God leaves Himself, He 
loves all creatures, not as creatures but more: creatures as God. . . . God tastes (Skr. 
bhunlite) himself in all things.. . . Men as creatures taste as all creatures in measures 
and quantities, as wine and bread and meat. But my inner man tastes not as a 
creature, but more: as a gift of God. But my innermost man does not taste it as a 
gift of God, but more: as eternity” (Pfeiffer ed., 180). 

37 Yujyate, like samyoga below, as in BG 1.26, where every birth is said to depend 
upon a “connection” or “yoking” (samyoga) of the Knower of the Field with the 
Field. Conversely, asamyoga, “liberation,” “unyoking,” MU vi.21. 

18 “The nourishment of ‘sense-perception’ which he (the author of Gen. 2:5) figura¬ 
tively calls ‘rain’” (Philo, Legum allegoriae, 1.48). Here with reference to the 
falcon-brought Soma, and the "Shower of Wealth ( vasor dhetra)'' “Touch,” because 
“all experience is contact-born” (BG v.21); cf. Coomaraswamy, “Note on the 
Stickfast Motif,” 1944. 

19 The embodied Self (dehi) of BG 11.18 ff., and quick or vibrant (vipasett) Self 
of KU 11.18, 19, that never becomes anyone, but passes over from body to body, 
and is not slain when the body is slain, unborn though it can be thought of as 
continually born and continually dying. This is precisely the doctrine of the im¬ 
mortal Soul, which Plato cites as that of learned priests and priestesses: “They say 
that the soul of man is immortal, and at one time ends, which they call ‘dying away,’ 
and at another is born again, but never perishes” (Meno 8iab). The embodied Self 
(de/u, paramatma . . . sanrasthah) is to be distinguished from the elemental self 
(bhutatman, bhutagana, MU 111.2, 3). The former is the unperishing (avinasyat) 
Self of CU vm.5.3 and BG xm.27, the latter arises out of the elements and perishes 
(vinasyati) with them (BU it.4.12). 

20 These words describe the entry of the Self into any one body and its extension 
therein in the form of the Intelligences (Breaths, powers of the soul) that work 
through the doors of the senses, as in MU 11.6, etc. Karmdnugani, “corresponding to 
the variety of actions to be performed,” as in BU 1.5.21, “ ‘I am going to speak,’ 
began the Voice,” etc. The powers of speaking, seeing, thinking, etc., "are just the 
names of His acts" (BU 1.4.7)—not “ours” (BG m.27). “Stupefied by the notion 
of an ‘I that acts,’ the self believes that ‘I am the actor’”: similarly, countless Bud¬ 
dhists texts; cf. Philo, Legum allegoriae, 1.78, “I deem nothing so shameful as to 
suppose that T know and 'V perceive. My own intellect the author of its own 
intelligizing, how could that be?” Anukramena, like yathayatanam in Kaus. Up. 111.3 
and Ait. Up. 11.3, and yathakramena in MU vi.26, “As rays from Sun, so from him 
(immanent Brahma, Fire of Life) his Breaths and the rest come forth continually 
here in the world in due order (tasya pranadayo vai punar eva tasmad abhyuc- 
carantiha yathakramena).'' Sthanesu, “in their places,” as in Prasna Up. 111.2, stha- 
nam. Rupani, “forms,” i.e., “Prajapati’s breath-forms” (pi-anarupd, Sayana on RV 
x.90.16, and as in BU r.5.21, where the Breaths are the “forms” of the median 
Breath and called after him; similarly in Prasna Up. 11.12). 


70 


ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 


the qualities, both his own and of action, he seems to be ‘another’ ” ( tesam 
sarnyogahetur aparo 2 ' 'pi drstah, Svet. Up. v.1-13, condensed). 

This transmigrating “Lord of the Breaths” is the Breath (prana), “the 
most excellent ( vasistha , BU vi.i, 14),” 22 Brahma, Prajapati, he who di¬ 
vides himself five- and manifold to support and sustain the body, to 
awaken his children, to fill these worlds (Prasna Up. 11.3; MU 11.6, vi.26), 
remaining nevertheless undivided in things divided (BG xiii.16, xvin.20). 
To him as Prajapati it is said, “ ’Tis thou, thyself, that art counterborn 
(pratijdyase) 23 to thee all thy children ( prajah = r asm ay ah, prandh, de- 
vah, bhutani) bring tribute (bahm haranti) 2i O Breath” (Prasna Up. 

21 A para, “lower” or “other" as in MU 111.2 (Atman), and to be contrasted with 
para (Brahma) in verse 1 = para (Atman) of Prasna Up. iv.7. For the “one es¬ 
sence and two natures” of Brahma see BU 11.3, Prasna Up. v.2, MU vi.3, 22, 23 and 
vii.11.8, dvaifibhava). This is the doctrine of Hermes, viz. that to say that "God is 
both One and All does not mean that the One is two, but that the two are One" (Lib. 
xvt.3). Similarly Plotinus, iv.4.10, “The ordering-and-governing-principle (to koo- 
fio uv = Plato, Phacdo 97c, 6 SiaKooyuur rt xai waVTUv atnos) is twofold, one that 
we call Demiurge and one the Soul of All (tov t ravros i/n>xy) : we speak of Zeus 
sometimes as Demiurge (Creator) and sometimes as the Leader of all (f/yepuiv tov 
iravr os)”; which is as much as to say that we speak of Varuna sometimes as such 
and sometimes as Mitra or Savitr (netr, RV v.50.1 = pranasariranctr, Mund- Up. 
11.2.8 = almano 'tma netamrtakhyah, MU vi.7), of Brahma as parapara, dvirupa and 
dvrutibhava, of Agni as Indragnl, and of Prajapati as parimitdparimita, niruktdni- 
rukta, etc., in the same way imputing two contrasted natures to one and same es¬ 
sence. And just as in one of these natures the deity is immortal and impassible and 
in the other mortal and passible, so in the one he is without needs and in the other 
has ends to be attained. At the same time, in him these are not two, but one simple 
essence; the distinction is "logical but not real.” So Nicholas of Cusa speaks of the 
“wall of Paradise” that conceals God from our sight as constituted of the “coincidence 
of opposites” and of its gate as guarded by “the highest spirit of reason, who bars 
the way until he has been overcome” (De visione Dei ix, xi)—as in JUB 1.5. 

22 Implying Agni who as the “Fire of Life” is the “Breath of Life,” cf. Heracleitus, 
fr. 20, and Coomaraswamy, “Measures of Fire" [in this volume— ed.]. 

23 BU n.1.8 pratirupo 'smaj jayase\ cf. Svet. Up. 11.16, v.ji. The Self is the Father of 
the Breath and consubstandal (MU vi.i); like the human father and son, in accord¬ 
ance with the normal doctrine that the father himself is reborn in his progeny (RV 
v.4.10, vi.70.3; BD vn.50; AB vii. 13; AA 11.5; BG iv.7, 8, etc.), the only Indian 
doctrine of rebirth on earth. It is a character that is thus reborn; it is in his “other 
self’ that the father departs at death; and we are often reminded (SB passim) that 
the dead have departed “once for all.” The heredity of vocation is connected with 
the traditional (for it is not only Indian) doctrine of progenitive rebirth. In the 
same way in divinis , the Father is reborn as the Son; cf. the Christian Alma redemp- 
toiis Mater . . . tu quae genuisti tuum sanctum genitorem. 

24 Cf. AV x.7.38, 39, x.8.15, xi.4.19; SB vi.1.1.7; JUB w.23.7, iv.24.1-7; BU vi.1.13; 
Kaus. Up. ii.i. The various names by which the recipient and the tributaries are 
referred to in these contexts all imply the Breath and the Breaths, i.e., God and gods 
under various aspects. Hence “All these gods are in me” (JUB 1.14-2; SB 11.3.2.3; 


71 





MAJOR ESSAYS 


ji.7). By this Prajapati this body of ours is set up in possession of con¬ 
sciousness ( cetanavat ), he as its driver passing on from body to body 
(; prati'sariresu carati ), unovercome by the bright and dark fruit of his 
acts, or rather those acts of which he, as our Inner Man ( antah purusa ), 2 ° 
is the actuator ( karayitr ) and spectator (pre{sa/(a) rather than the doer 
(MU 11.6-111.3)- This Prajapati is likewise “the divine Breath who, whether 
or not transmigrating ( samcaran's casamcarans ca), 20 is neither injured 
nor distressed, and whom all beings serve,” and with respect to whom it is 
further said that “however his children may suffer, that pertains to them 
alone, good only goes to him, evil does not reach the gods” (BU 1.5.20). 

Thus this One, spoken of by many names, is everywhere born and re¬ 
born. “Unseen, Prajapati moves in the womb ( carati garbhe antah) and 
is multifariously born” ( bahudha vi jayate, AV x.8.13, cf. Mund. Up. 
11.2.6); “The Person expires 27 and suspires in the womb, and then is he 

AA ir.1.5, etc.). The praja of AV XC4.19 (like Prasna Up. 11.7) are not ‘‘human be¬ 
ings” (Whitney), but the “rays” by which “we" arc ensouled and energized (JUB 
1.28, 29), the Visvedevah (TS iv.3.1.26). These rays are withdrawn at our death 
(BU v.5.2; AA 111.2.4, etc.), viz. when Death himself, the Breath, withdraws his 
“feet” from our heart and “we” are cut off (SB x.5.2.13); for the Breaths cannot 
live without him (BU vi.1.13 = CU v.1.12). It is true that we arc children of the 
Sun in the sense that our life depends upon him who is our real Father (JUB 111.10.4; 
SB vn.3.2.12, etc.), but we are naturally sons of our own fathers, and unril we have 
acquired a second self or Self, born of the sacrifice (JB 1.17, etc., cf. John 3:3) we do 
not “really become the immortal children of Prajapati” (SB v.2.1.11, 14), his natural 
sons (SB ix.3.3.14), or himself (SB iv.6.1.5). “That art thou” is always true, but 
only potentially for us, for so long as wc are “this man, So-and-so.” We are ensouled 
and quickened by the rays of the Sun, the Breaths, the All-Gods, but it can only 
be said of the perfected that they arc those rays of the Sun (SB 1.9.3.10, RV 

I. 109.7), his sons (JUB 11.9.10). 

26 The puruso ’ntasthah of MU vi.io; purusah sarvasu pursu purisayah of BU 

II. 5.18; sarvesam bhiitesam antahpurusah of A A m.2.4, described as the unseen 
seer, etc., and as “unbowed” ( anata ), i.e., anabhibhata as in MU 11.7; Vamadeva 
garbhe . . . sayanah of AA 11.5; Agni a yah puram narmiriim adidet . . . satatma 
of RV 1.149.3. F° r the distinction of this Inner Man from our outer man (the ele¬ 
mental self, bhutatman) cf. 11 Cor. 4:16, “Is qui foris est noster homo corrumpitur 
tamen is qui intus est renovatur de die in diem,” like MU 111.2. Undoubtedly John 
1:14 should be understood to read “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt in 
us” (iv r'liih) rather than “amongst us,” by which “amongst” the Incarnation would 
be considered only historically. 

20 I.e., whether immanent or transcendent; whether he “wanders in the Field, 
together with his acts (\}ctre samcarati . . . sva\armabhih, Svet. Up. v.3, 7),” or 
remains aloof. 

27 The descent into the blind darkness of the womb, into hell ( niraya, MU 111.4); 
from which one comes into being again, being saved from that first death by the 


72 


ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 


born again when thou, O Breath, givest life” (AV xi.4.14, cf. JUB m.8.10- 
ix.x); “Thou alone, O Sun, art born about the whole world” (e/{0 visvam 
pari bhiima jdyase, AV xm.2.3) ; 28 “One God indwelling the mind, of old 
was he born and is even now in the womb” (AV x.8.28 = JUB m.10.12). 
Similar texts could be cited at greater length, but it will suffice for the 
present to observe the emphasis laid upon the fact that it is always One 
that is diversely and recurrently born; He, that is, who is “undivided in, 
though as it were divided by his presence in divided beings” (BG xin.16 
and xvm.20), being “One as he is in himself, and many as he is in his 
children” (SB x.5.2.16), who are not Beings independently, but Beings by 
participation. 29 

All this is also the oldest Samhita doctrine, where it is the Sun or Fire 
that enters into the womb and transmigrates: 30 thus RV x.72.9, where 
Aditi “bears Martanda unto repeated birth and death ( prajayai mrtyave 
tvat punah )”; vm.43.9, “Thou, O Agni, being in the womb, art born again 
(garbhe san jdyase punah)”; x.5.1, where Agni is “of many births (bhuri- 
janma)"; m.1.20, where as Jatavedas he is “set down in birth after birth 
( janmah-janman nihitah)” i.e., as Say ana adds, “in all these human be¬ 
ings.” As Jatavedas he is omniscient of births (1.70.1, 1.189.1, vi.15.3), 
and necessarily so because, as SB ix.5.1.68 paraphrases, “he finds birth 
again and again ( jatam jdtam vindate).” In the same way “filling the 
(three) light-realms of this, 81 the mobile and immobile, he cometh mani¬ 
foldly into being, the Sire in these wombs” (purutrd yad abhavat, sur 
ahaibhyo garbhebhyah, RV 1.146.1, 5), “yet in one semblance manifold, as 
giver-of-being to all thy people 32 (viso visva anu prabhuh, RV viii.i 1.8) 

Sun (JUB 111.9.1, 111-10.4). Cf. St. Bernard, prius morimur nascituri (De grad, 
humilitatis 30). AV apanati = JUB mriyate. 

28 Who as the sacrificial Person “was poured out upon the earth from East to West” 
(aty aricyata pascad bhumin atho purah, RV x.90.5). 

29 “Et inspexi cetera infra te, ct vidi nec omnino esse nec omnino non esse: esse 
quidem, quoniam abs te sunt, non esse autem, quoniam id quod es non sunt” (St. 
Augustine, Confessions vu.ii). This "is and is not" is essentially the Buddhist doc¬ 
trine of satto, “existence.” 

30 Throughout the present article and elsewhere we are careful to distinguish 
transmigration from reincarnation; the former implying a transition from one state 
of being to another, the latter to the transmission or renewal of a former state of 
being. Cf. n. 23, and Coomaraswamy, "Measures of Fire.” 

31 I.e., as Prajapati divides himself to fill these worlds. 

32 Visah, i.e., Visvedevah, Maruts, pranah, pranagnayah directly and hence to 
praninah, “living beings,” indirectly. Visvam tvayd dhdrayate jayamanam . . . prajas 


73 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

It need not be demonstrated here that the Samhitas do not know of a 
“reincarnation” (individual rebirth on earth) since it is generally accepted 
that even the Brahmanas know nothing of such a doctrine (cf. the Keith 
edition of AA, Introduction, p. 44)—except, of course, in the normal 
progenitive sense of rebirth in one’s offspring (RV v.4.10, vi.70.3; AB 
vii. 13; AA 11.5). Our concern is rather to point out that the Veda speaks 
both of transmigration and of a one and only transmigrant, and distin¬ 
guishes “liberation” from “coming back again” ( vimucam navrtam punah, 
RV v.46.1). Our argument is that the expressions punarmrtyu and punar - 
janma which occur already in RV and the Brahmanas do not in the later 
scriptures acquire the new meanings of “dying again" (elsewhere) and 
“being born again” (here) that are generally read into them. In the major¬ 
ity of cases the references of “repeated death” and “repeated birth’ are to 
this present life or "becoming,” as in AB vm.25, sarvam dyur eti, na punar 
mriyate, and SB v.4.1.1, sarvan . .. mrtyun atimucyate, where it is the rela¬ 
tive immortality of not dying prematurely that is involved, and there is 
no question of never dying at all. In “becoming” ( bhava , yeWis) we die 
and are reborn every day and night, and in this sense ‘ day and night are 
recurrent deaths” ( punarmrtyu . . . yad ahoratre , JB i.n). Punarmrtyu 
is not some one other death to be dreaded as ending a future existence 
but, together with punarbhava or janma, the condition of any form or type 
of contingent existence; and it is from this process, this wheel of becoming 
(bhavacahra, 6 rpoxos rfj? yei '«rew? in James 3:6) here or hereafter, and 
not from any one death only, that liberation is sought. 33 

We have so far considered the Transmigrant, Parijman, only as the 
Great Catalyst who remains unaffected by the actions he empowers. The 
Supreme Lord and Self who is seated one and the same in all beings 
hearts (BG x.20, xm.27), the citizen in every “city” (BU 11.5.18; Philo, 


tatra yatra vi'sv'a ’mrto 'si, MU vi.g. “La circular natura, ch’c sugello alia cera mortal, 
fa ben sua arte, ma non distingue l’un dall’ altro ostello,” Dante, Paradiso vin.127- 
129 (ostello = nivasa, esp. in the Pali Buddhist expression pubbenivasan anussarati). 
“One Divine Life, mov’d, shin’d, sounded in and thro’ all,” Peter Sterry (V. de Sola 
Pinlo, Peter Sterry, Platonist and Puritan, Cambridge, 1934, p. 161). 

33 Cf. Coomaraswamy, Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power, 1942, n. 35. On 
James 3:6, cf. R. Eisler, “Orphisch-Dionysische Mysterien-Gedanken in der christ- 
lichen Antike," in Vortrdge der Bib. Warburg II (1922-1923), 86If.; P. Deussen, 
Vier philosophise he Texte des Mahabhiratam (Leipzig, 1906), 272 ff.; Plato, Sophist 
248a, Timacus 29c (contrast yivemn and ovcri'a); and O. Kern, Orphicorv.m jrag- 
menta, fr. 32 (1922), kukAov S’ cE4—to.v /Japwcvfle'os dpyaXeoio. 


ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 

De cherubim 121), participating in action not because of any need on his 
part but only sacrificially and to maintain the world process (BG 111.9, 22), 
wherein as it were disporting (BrSBh 11.1.32, 33) 34 he remains undivided 
amongst divided beings and indestructible amongst the destructible (BG 
xm.16,27). So long as he (Makha, the Sacrifice) is One, they cannot over¬ 
come him (TA v.1.3); but as One he cannot bring his creatures to life, and 
must divide himself (MU xii.6). We are repeatedly told, indeed, that he, 
Prajapati, “desired ( a\dmayat )” to be many, and so, as it seems to us, it is 
not quite disinterestedly 35 but “with ends not yet attained and with a view 
to enjoying the objects of the senses” that he sets us agoing (MU ii.6d). But 
this is a dangerous enterprise, for being their experient, he is carried away by 
the flood of the qualities of the primary matter (prakrtair gunaih ) with 
which he operates; 35 and as the corporeal ( sarira ) elemental self ( bhutat- 

34 Cf. Coomaraswamy, “Lila,” 1941, and “Play and Seriousness,” 1942 [both in 
this volume— ed.]. Cf. Dante, Purgatorio xxvm.95, 96: 

Per sua diffalta in pianto ed in affanno 
cambio onesto riso e dolce gioco 

and Mathnawi 1.1787, 1788: 

Thou didst contrive this "I” and “wc” in order that 
Thou mightest play the game of worship with Thyself, 

That all “I”s and “thou”s should become one life. 

When, as in MU 11.6-111.2, we speak of Him as having ends still to be attained, 
we also conceive that He is caught in the net, and that He is liberated again, and 
this is the truth in terms of human thinking. But like all else that pertains to the 
via affirmativa, this is a truth to be finally denied. For the viac, see MU iv.6. 

35 Whenever we explain the existence of the world not directly by God’s being, 
or by His knowledge of Himself, but as a consequence of His Will, i.e., “of expres¬ 
sion," as here, or when it is said that “Prajapati desired (akamayat), May I be many” 
(Brahmanas, passim), wc are speaking metaphorically as if He really had ends to be 
attained, as is explicit in MU 11.6, and, just as in dividing effect from cause, we im¬ 
pose our duration upon His eternity. More truly, ‘There is nothing whatever that 
1 might obtain that I am not already possessed of” (na ... me \imcana anavaptam 
avaptavyam, BG m.22): “Non per aver a se di bene acquisto, ch’csser non puo” 
(Dante, Paradiso xxix.13, 14). 

So Pentheus conceives that Dionysius can be bound; but He declares that “Of 
himself the Daimon shall release me when 1 will,” and later, that “I myself myself 
did save, full easily and painlessly” (Euripides, Bacchac 498, 613). The “Daimon” is, 
of course, “himself.” 

35 Just as the Man (avdpanro^), Son of the Father, is seduced by the reflection of 
the divine beauty in the mirror of Nature, and loving it becomes involved in it 
(Hermes, Lib. 1.14, 15; TS v.3.2.1; AB 111.33; PB vn.8.1). The “flood of qualities by 
which the soul is swept away” (gunaughair uhyamanah) corresponds to Plato’s 
river of sensations” ( Timacus 4311); to the “crossing over” (SunropeLa — tarana ) 


74 


75 





MAJOR ESSAYS 

man ), 37 knowing subject over against ostensibly external objects of percep¬ 
tion, and composite of all desires (sarvakama-maya) , 38 he is bemused and 
does not see the bountiful Giver-of-being and Actuator within him, 39 “but 
conceives that ‘this is F and ‘that is mine,’ and therewith binds himself 
by himself like a bird in the net (jaleneva \hacarah ) i0 and so wanders 
around (paribhramati = samsarati, samcarati) in wombs both aughty and 


of which there is a reference in Epinomis 894E; and to Philo's river of the objects of 
sense that swamps and drowns the soul under the flood of the passions until “Jacob” 
(vous) crosses it ( Lcgum allegoriae 111.18 and De gigantibus xm). Cf. St. Au¬ 
gustine’s cum transient anima nostra aquas, quae sunt sine substantia ( Confessions 
xm.7). 

37 As in CU vm. 12.1, cited above. 

38 “The Person of desires composite” {\amamayam evayam purufam), BU iv.4.5. 

39 Apart from whom the soul is bound “because of its enjoyment” ( bhokrtvat, 
Svet. Up. 1.8), deadly for those who conceive that the experience is their own. 

40 “A little Bird ty’d by the Leg with a String, often flutters and tries to raise it¬ 
self. . . . Thus a Soul fixt in a Self-principle ... is snatched down by that String 
of Self, which ties it to the Ground,” Peter Sterry (de Sola Pinto, Peter Starry, p. 
169). “Tomb'd in my self: my self my grave. ... My self even to my self a slave” 
(Phineas Fletcher)—“the prisoner himself being the main occasion of his own im¬ 
prisonment” (Plato, Phaedo 831s, cf, Mathnawi, 1.154). 

The net (or spider’s web, Svet. Up. vi.io; Mund. Up. 1.7; KB xix.3, etc.) that he 
himself has spread (ya e!{o jalavdn, Svet. Up. m.i), the one and only net that he 
manywise transforms and “in which field he wanders” ( samcarati, Svet. Up. v.3, 7, 
i.e., samsarati, “transmigrates” rather than Deussen’s "wieder entzieht" or Hume’s 
“draws it together”). 

Insofar as the Only Transmigrant is overcome by the notions “This is I” and 
‘Those arc others,” the Bird is conceptually one of many, and no longer “the One 
Controller of the created many” (Svet. Up. vi.13), and we, who are preeminently 
subject to these delusions, speak of the liberation of a plurality of individuals, e.g., 
“Many are the essences that are bound by wanting, like a bird in the net (icchd- 
baddha puthusatta pasena sakuni yatha, ti" (S 1.44). 

That “A being is a flux, action is its passing over” {satto samsaram apddi, \am- 
mam tassa parayanam, S 1.38, cf. sadasad yonim apadyate, MU 111.2) taken together 
with Mil 72, "There is no particular essence ( n'atthi l^oci satto) that reincarnates 
(imamha kaya ahham kayam sanpamati)," means that there is no constant indi¬ 
viduality that treads the round; as how might there be, when even today our per¬ 
sonality is “other” than it was yesterday (S 11.95, 96) ? It is not a life, but the fire of 
life that is transmitted (BrSBh iv.4.15; Mil 71; cf. Heracieitus, fr. 20). The Compre- 
hensor of the Buddha’s teaching will not ask himself either What was "I”? or What 
shall “I” become? (S 11.26, 27). 

Khacara is almost literally “skylark”; \ha is anagogically Brahman as unlimited 
“Space” ( a\asa, quintessentia), or roVos, as in Bruce Codex, C. A. Baynes, tr., A 
Coptic Gnostic Treatise (Cambridge, 1933), p. 3. Cf. BU v.x; CU 1.9, m.12.7-9, iv.10.4, 
vn.12, vm.1.14; and Coomaraswamy, “Kha and Other Words Denoting ‘Zero,’ in 
Connection with the Indian Metaphysics of Space” [in this volume— ed.]. 

76 



ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 

naughty ( sadasat), 41 overcome by the fruits of actions and by the pairs of 
opposites” (MU 111.2, vi.io). 42 

There is, indeed, a corrective (pratividhi) for this elemental self, viz. in 
the study and mastery of the wisdom of the Vedas and in the fulfilment 
of one’s own duty ( svadharma ) 43 in its regular stages ( asrama , MU iv.3). 
“By the knowledge of Brahman, by ardor ( tapas ) and contemplation 
(cinta — dhyana) he getteth everlasting bliss, yea, when this ‘man in 
the cart’ ( rathitah ) 44 is liberated from those things with which he was 
filled up 15 and by which he was overcome, then he attains to conjunction 
with the Spirit ( atman eva sayujam upaiti, MU iv.4),” i.e., “being very 
Brahma enters into Brahma ( brahmaiva san brahmapyeti, BU iv.4.6),” 46 
and thus “authentically Brahma-become, abides ( brahmabhutena attana 
viharati, A 11.211).” That is Nicholas of Cusa’s deifeatio, for which the 
sine qua non is an ablatio omnis alteritatis et diversitatis . 47 

41 “For the movement of the Kosmos varies the birth of things, and gives them this 
or that quality; it fouls with evil the births of some and purifies with good the births 
of others” (Hermes, Lib. 9.5). 

Asat as “evil," here and elsewhere, corresponds exactly to English “naughty,” in 
accordance with the principle ens et bonum convcrtuntur. 

42 Conversely, “liberated from the pairs of opposites” (BG xv.5, cf. vn.27), and 
“becoming a bird, the sacrificer goes to the world of heaven” (PB v.3.5, cf. xiv.1.13). 
With this whole context, cf. Plotinus, Enncads 1.1, especially 1.1.12. 

43 As in BG 111.351 xvm.41-48. This is the to eavrov TrpdrTav, Kara <f>vcnv that 
Plato makes his type of justice. 

44 Apparently pp. of rath, not otherwise known as a verb, and signifying “em¬ 
bodied” (KU 111.3 viddhi sartram ratham ; MU 11.3 sa\atam ivacetanam idam sari- 
ram). That to “be carted about” is a traditional punishment and disgrace involving 
loss of honor and legal rights is metaphysically significant, and corresponds to the 
subjection of the free spirit to the body and senses; while conversely, it is a royal 
procession when the spirit drives the vehicle to a destination that it itself wills (as in 
BU iv.2.1). On the Royal Road, cf. Philo, De posteritate Caini ci, and on how one 
strays, Legum allegoriae, iv.79 ff. 

The ignominy (like that of crucifixion) is one to which the Solar Hero may 
have to condescend in his pursuit of the imprisoned Psyche; and Lancelot’s “hesita¬ 
tion” in the Chevalier de la charrctte corresponds to Agni’s reluctance to become 
the charioteer of the Sacrifice (RV x.51), the Buddha’s hesitation to “turn the 
wheel,” and Christ’s “May this cup be taken from me.” 

4 '’ Yaih paripurnah, as in CU iv.10.3 vyadhibhih paripitrno 'smi, “I am filled up 
with diseases.” For “the body fills us up with loves and passions and all kinds of 
unages and folly, so that, as they say, it verily and really prevents our ever understand¬ 
ing anything” (Plato, Phaedo 66c); from which plethora we ought to purify our¬ 
selves as far as possible “until the God himself delivers us” {Phaedo 67a). 

46 Qui autem adhaerct Domino, unus spiritus est, 1 Cor. 6:17. 

4 ‘ “If you cannot equate yourself with God, you cannot know Him; for like is 
known by like” (Hermes, Lib. XI.2.20B). 

77 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


Otherwise stated, Prajapati “desires {\am, man)" to become many, 
to “express (srj) ” his children, and having done so is spilled and falls down 
unstrung (Brahmanas, passim). It is “with love ( prena )” that he enters 
into them, and then he cannot come together ( sambhii ) again, whole and 
complete, except by the sacrificial operation (TS v.5.2.1); he cannot from 
his disjointed parts put himself together ( samhan ), and can only be 
healed through the sacrificial operations of the gods (SB 1.6.3.36, etc.). It 
is sufficiently well known, and needs no demonstration here, that the final 
purpose of this operation in which the sacrificer symbolically sacrifices 
himself is to build up together again, whole and complete, both the sacri¬ 
ficer and the divided deity at one and the same time. It is evident that the 
possibility of such a simultaneous regeneration rests upon the theoretical 
identity of the sacrificer’s real being with that of the immanent deity, 
postulated in the dictum, “That art thou.” To sacrifice our self is to 
liberate the God within us. 

In still another way we can illustrate the thesis by referring to those 
texts in which the immanent deity is spoken of as a “citizen" of the body 
politic in which he is, as it were, confined, and from which he also liber¬ 
ates himself when he remembers himself and we forget our selves. That 
the human body is called a “city of God ( pnrarn . . . brahmanah, AV 
x.2.28; bmhmapura, passim)" is well known; 18 and he who as a bird 
{pa\fi bhutva) becomes a citizen in all these cities ( sarvasu piirsu puri- 
sayah) is hermeneutically purusa (BU 11.5.18). The Solar Man or Person 
who thus inhabits us and is the Friend of All is also the beloved Vamadeva, 
the Breath {prana), “who set himself in the midst of all that is ( sa yad 
idam sarvam madhyato '" 1 dadhc) .. . and protected all that is from evil 
(AA n.2.1); and being in the womb {garbhe . . . san) is the knower of 
all the births of the gods (Breaths, Intelligences, powers of the soul) who 
serve him (RV iv.27.1; KU v.3, etc.). He says of himself that “although a 
hundred cities 51 held me fast, 52 forth I sped with falcon speed” (RV 

48 Just as also for Plato, man is a “body politic” (xo'Ats = par). [Cf. Coomara- 
swamy, “What is Civilization?” 1946 —ed.] 

48 The immanent Breath is repeatedly referred to as “median” {madhyama), i.e., 
with respect to the Breaths, by whom it is surrounded and served. As in Philo, 
Lcgum allegoriae 1.51, where “God extends the power that is from him by means 
of the median breath (SA rov pioov irvev paros) until it reaches the subject, on 
which it stamps the powers that are within the scope of its understanding, thus 
{ibid., 50) ensouling what was soulless. 

50 As in BU 1.3.7 & 

51 Probably the hundred years of a man’s life, during which time the Breath shines 
upon him (AA 11.5.1). When he departs, we die (SB x.5.2.13, etc.), for “as a mighty 


78 


ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 


iv.27.1), 53 and that “I was Manu and the Sun” (RV iv.26.1; BU 14.10, 
etc.). 54 

‘“Forth I sped’ . . . thus spake Vamadeva incarnate {garbhe . . . 
sayanah — purisayah). The Comprehensor thereof, when separation from 
the body takes place, forth-striding upwards {urdhva utl(ramya) : ‘° and 
obtaining all desires in yonder world, has come together {samabhavat),™ 
immortal” (AA 11.5; cf. 1.3.8, conclusion). Vamadeva is here equated with 
that “other self {itara dtma )” 57 which, being all in act {/(rtal(rtyah) 5S 

stallion might pull out the pegs of his hobbles all at once, even so he pulls up the 
Breaths all together" (BU vi.1.13, cf. 111.9.26; CU v.r.12)—thus recollecting himself 
(BU iv.4.3). 

52 "Not knowing himself’ (Sayana); "become a Stranger to himself,” Peter Sterry 
(de Sola Pinto, p. 166). 

33 “Knowing himself” (Sayana). “Now that I see in Mind, I see myself to be 
the All. I am in heaven and on earth, in water and in air; I am in beasts and plants; 
I am a babe in the womb, and one that is not yet conceived, and one that has been 
born; I am present everywhere” (Hermes, Lib. xiii.iib, cf. xi.2.20b; cf. AV xi.4.20, 
RV iv.40-5, etc.). 

54 With “I was Manu and the Sun" may be compared the verses of Amergin 
{Oxford Book, of English Mystical Verse, cd. D.H.S. Nicholson and A.H.E. Lee, 
Oxford, 1916, p. 1) and those of Taliesin (John Guenogvryn Evans, Poems from the 
Book of Taliesin, Tremvan, 1915; Robert Douglas Scott, The Thumb of Knowledge 
in Legends of Finn, Sigurd and Taliesin, New York, 1930, pp. 124 ff.). For example, 
Amergin: “I am the wind which blows o’er the sea, I am the wave of the ocean . . . 
a beam of the sun ... the point of the lance in battle, the God who creates in the 
head the fire," and Taliesin: “I have sung of what 1 passed through ... I sing of 
true lineage ... 1 was in many a guise before I was disenchanted ... I was the 
hero in trouble ... I am old. I am young ... I am universal, I am possessed of 
penetrating wit." There is no doctrine of “reincarnation” here, but of the eternal 
avatarana and sarvajndna of the “Immortal Soul” (Spirit) of Meno 81 and Agni 
Jatavedas of the Indian texts. 

55 When Death, the Person in the Sun, the Breath, abandons his stand in the heart 
and strides off {utk’amati) , we are “cut off.” Hence, with reference to the two 
selves of AA 11.5, etc., the question of Prasna Up. V1.3, "When I go forth, in which 
shall I be going forth {utk/antah) ?” 

53 Samabhavat is more than just “became": it is rather “came together, whole and 
complete.” Contrast TS v.5.2.1, where Prajapati "cannot come together again {punar 
sambhavitum na sa\noti) out of his children” until the Sacrifice has been performed, 
of which the sacrificer is born again in the sense of AA 1.3.8, amrtam evatmanam 
abhisambhavati, satnbhavati, "is regenerated, yea reborn as (or united with) the Im¬ 
mortal Self.” In the same context Keith misunderstands atmanarn samskurute, which 
ts not “adorns this trunk” (as Vairocana might have supposed, CU vm.8.3) but 

integrates, or completes, himself,” as in AB vi.27, where Keith’s "perfects himself’ 
is quite acceptable. Contrast TS v.5.2.1 punah sambhavitum nasaknot, 

5 ‘ “Other” (and “dearer,” BU 1.4.8) than the psycho-physical self that is reborn 
in the normal course of progenitive reincarnation “for the perpetuation of these 
worlds and the doing of the holy tasks” (AA 11.5)—“thus providing servants 


79 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


when “old age is reached ( vayogatah ), departs ( praiti) and is regenerated 
(punar jay ate = samabhavat)," i.e., reborn for the third and last time. 59 

The escape of this “Dwarf,” Vamana, the superintendent of the city 
(pur am . . . anusthaya), enthroned in the middle (madhye . . . dsiram), 
and whom the Visve Devah (Breaths, functional powers of the soul) 
attend upon (upasate), 60 is further described in KU v.1-4, where it is 
asked, “When this immanent unstrung body-dweller is released from 
the body (asya visransamanasya 61 sarirasthasya dehinah dehad mucyama- 
nasya), what survives (\im parisisyate)V' and answered: “That,” viz. 
Brahma, Atman—the predicate of the dictum “That art thou.” 62 Thus “At¬ 
man means that which remains if we take away from our person all that is 
Not-self”; 03 our end is to exchange our own limited manner of being 
“So-and-so” for God’s unlimited manner of being simply—“Ego, daz 
wort ich, ist nieman eigen denne gote alleine in siner einekeit.” 84 

A consideration of all that has been said so far will enable us to approach 
such a text as that of BU iv.4.1-7 without falling into the error of sup- 

(mr/pcTai) for God in' our own stead, and this we do by leaving behind us chil¬ 
dren’s children” (Plato, Lams 773E)— to whom our character and responsibilities are 
both naturally and ritually transmitted (BU 1.5.17ff., cf. Kauj. Up. n.ri). 

68 “His task performed”; as in MU vi.30, cf. TS 1.8.3.! karma krtv'a, and the 
corresponding \atam \araniyam in the Buddhist Arhat formula, passim. Hence 
“all in act," without residue of potentiality. 

39 The third birth that takes place from the funeral pyre ( tato ’nusambhavati 
pranam v eva, JUB nr.10.9) and is the true Resurrection. 

00 Visve deva upasate corresponds to RV vn.33.11 visve devah . . . adadanta. 

91 Deussen’s “nach des Leibes Einfalls" is impossible, because both visransamanasya 
and sarirasthasya are qualifications of dehinah. Hume’s “when this incorporate one 
. . . is dissolved” is inappropriate because the dehin is imperishable and indissoluble 
(BG 11.23, 24, etc.). On the other hand, the incarnate principle can be spoken of 
as “unstrung” in the same way that we are repeatedly told that Prajapati, having 
expressed his children and thus become many, is “unstrung” (vyasransata) and 
falls down (AA 111.2.6 and passim). 

92 Similarly in answer to the questions asked or implied, kim atisisyatc or avasisyatc, 
in CU ir.10.3, vin.1.4, and BU v.i. The Endless (Ananta) Residue (Sesa) is that 
Brahman, Aksara, etc., who was originally ophidian (apdd) and endless (AV 
x.8.21; BU in.8.8; Mund. Up. 1.1.6; MU vi.17) and now that ail semblance of other¬ 
ness is discarded remains the same World Serpent “endless, for that both his ends 
meet ( anantam . . . antavac ca samante, AV x.8.12)”; this Sesa being the Ucchista 
of AV XI.7 and Purnam of AV x.8.29. See also Coomaraswamy, “Atmayajfia ,” Ap¬ 
pendix II fin this volume —ed.]. 

03 P. Deussen, Outlines oj Indian Philosophy (Berlin, 1907), 20. As in Buddhist pro¬ 
cedure, where each of the five factors of the psycho-physical personality is dismissed 
with the words, “That is not my Self (na me so atta).” 

91 Meister Eckhart, Pfeiffer ed., p. 261. 


80 


ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 


posing that the “land leech” of verse 3 is an individual and definitely 
characterized “soul” that passes over from one body to another. Rather, 
it is the undivided and never individualized Self that having now re-col¬ 
lected itself (dtmanam upasamharad , cf. BG 11.58), and free from the 
“ignorance” of the body (with which it no longer identifies itself), trans¬ 
migrates; this re-collected Self is the Brahma that takes on every form and 
quality of existence, both good and evil, 9 ’ according to its desires and 
activities (verse 5); if it is still attached (sa\tah), still desirous (\dma- 
yamanah), this Self (ayam, i.e., ayam atma) returns (punar aid) from 
that world to this world, but if without desire ( a\ama-yamanah ), if it 
loves only itself (atma\dmah, cf. iv.3.21), then “being very Brahma, it 
enters into Brahma (brahmaiva san brahmapyed) then “the mortal be¬ 
comes the immortal” (verses 6, 7). The meaning of these passages is dis¬ 
torted, and given a reincarnationist sense, by all those translators (e.g., 
Hume and Swami Madhavananda) who translate ayam of verse 6 by “he” 
or “the man,” overlooking that this ayam is nothing but the ayam atma 
brahma of the preceding verse. 69 The distinction is not of one “man” from 
another, but of the two forms of Brahma-Prajapati, “mortal and immor¬ 
tal,” 67 desirous and undesirous, circumscribed and uncircumscribed, etc. 
(SB iv.7.5.2; BU 11.3; MU vi.36, etc.), and of the “two minds, pure and 
impure” (MU vi.34.6), from one another. 68 If we were in any doubt 
on this point, it is made very clear by the words of BU iv.3.35-38, “Here 

95 As in MU vn.ii.8 carali . . . satyanrtopabhogarthah dvaitibhavo mahatmanah, 
‘The Great Self, having two natures, proceeds (moves, circulates, transmigrates) 
with intent to experience both the true and the false.” 

“On the interpretation of this ayam, cf. Sankaracarva on BU 1.4.10, “One must 
not think that the word ‘Brahma’ here means 'a man who will become Brahma,’ 
for that would involve an antinomy. ... If the objection be made that from BU 
ni.2.13 punyena karmana bhavali 'by good deed one becomes good,’ ... it follows 
that there must be a transmigrating self other than and distinguishable from the 
Supreme (parasmad vila\sano ’nyah samsari), . . . we say, No . . . for one thing 
cannot ‘become’ another.” It can only become what it is. Tv& 0 i oeavrov, Wade mas 
du bist. 

67 RV 1.164.38 amartya martyena sayonih. On these two selves (Plato’s mortal and 
immortal souls that dwell together in us) see Coomaraswamy, Spiritual Authority 
and Temporal Power, 1942, pp. 72 ff. 

98 Pure, “by disconnection with desire,” impure "by contamination with desire.” 
The pure Mind is the daivam manas of BU 1.5.19, identified with Brahma in BU 
iv.1.6 (mano vai samrat paramam brahma) and with Prajapati in TS vi.6.10.1, SB 
tx.4-i.12, and passim. This is Plato’s unchangeable Mind “in which only the Gods 
and but few men participate,” as distinguished from irrational Opinion, subject 
to persuasion ( Timaeus 51DE). Cf. Coomaraswamy, “On Being in One’s Right 
Mind,” 1942. 


81 





MAJOR ESSAYS 


ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 


comes Brahma!”, that it is not an individual but God himself that comes 
and goes when “we” are born or die. 

It would be an antinomy to apply to myself—this man, So-and-so—or 
to any other someone amongst others the words, “That art thou,” or to 
think of myself, le moi , as the “I” of Swami Nirbhyananda’s 

I am the bird caught in the net of illusion, 

I am he who bows down the head 

And the One to whom he bows: 

I alone exist, there is neither seeker nor sought. 69 

When at last I realized Unity, then I knew what 
had been unknown, 

That I had always been in union with Thee. 70 

When the soul-bird at last escapes from the net of the fowler (Psalms 
124:7) and finds its King, then the apparent distinction of immanent 
from transcendent being dissolves in the light of day, and it hears and 
speaks with a voice that is at once its own and its King’s, saying 

I was the Sin that from Myself rebell’d: 

I the remorse that tow’rd Myself compell’d . . . 

Pilgrim, Pilgrimage and Road 

Was but Myself toward Myself: and Your 

Arrival but Myself at my own door. 71 

II 

It has been, we think, sufficiently shown that the scriptures of the Vedanta, 
from the Rg Veda to the Bhagavad Gita, know of but One Transmigrant. 
Such a doctrine follows, indeed, inevitably from the word Advaita. The 
argument, “Brahma is only metaphorically called a ‘life’ (jiva, living be¬ 
ing) on account of his connection with accidental conditions, the actual 
existence of any one such ‘life’ lasting for only so long as He continues to 

69 “The eternal procession is the revelation of Himself to Himself. The knower 
being that which is known” (Meister Eckhart, Evans ed., I, 394). “It knew Itself, 
that ‘I am Brahma,’ therewith It became the All” (BU 1.4.10). 

70 1 know these lines only from H. P. Shastri, Indian Mystic Verse (London, 
1941). 

71 Faridu’d-DIn ’Attar, Mantiqu't-Tair; cf. RumI, Mathnawi, 1.3056-3065, and 
fUB 1n.x4.1-5. 


be bound by any one set of accidents” (Sankaracarya on BrSBh m.2.10), 
is only an expansion of the implications of the logos, “That art thou.” 

We have also indicated more briefly the 6 /j.oKoyia of the Indian and 
Platonic traditions, and have alluded to the Islamic parallels: rather to 
make the doctrine more comprehensible than to imply any derivation. 
From the same point of view we have still to refer to the Judaic and Chris¬ 
tian doctrines. In the Old Testament we find that when we die and give 
up the ghost, “Then shall the dust return to the dust as it was: and the 
spirit ( ruah ) shall return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). Of this, D. B. 
Macdonald remarks, the Preacher “is heartily glad, for it means a final 
escape for man.” 72 To be “glad” of this can be thought of only for one who 
has known who he is and in which self he hopes to go hence. For the Jews, 
who did not anticipate a “personal immortality,” the soul ( nejes ) always 
implies “the lower, physical nature, the appetites, the psyche of St. 
Paul” 73 —all that in Buddhist terms “is not my Self”—and they must 
therefore have believed, as Philo assuredly did, in a “soul of the soul,” 
the TTvevixa of St. Paul. 71 

72 Hebrew Philosophical Genius, Princeton and Oxford, 1936, p. 136. 

73 Ibid., p. 139. So in Islam, e.g., RumI, Mathnawi, 1.1375 ff., “This carnal self 
(nafs ) is Hell, and Hell is a Dragon. ... To God (alone) belongs this foot (the 
power) to kill it"; 1.3274, “When the Soul of the soul ( jan-i-jan — God, 1.1781) 
withdraws from the soul, the soul becomes even as the soulless body, know this”; 
cf. JUB iv.26, “Mind is a hell, speech is a hell, sight is a hell,” etc. The internal con¬ 
flict of Reason ('aql = voCs) with the carnal soul (nafs) is compared to that of 
a man and woman living together in one house (ibid., 1.2616 ff.). As Jahangir said in 
his memoirs apropos of Gosairi Jadrup, Tasawwuf and Vedanta are the same. As 
R. A. Nicholson (on Mathnawi 1.2812) puts it, the Sufi doctrine is that “God is 
the essence of all existences . . . [while] everything in the world of contingency 
is separated from the Absolute [only] by individualization. The prophets were sent 
to unite the particulars with the Universal.” 

74 With reference to the doctrine elsewhere, A. H. Gebhard-Lestrange states very 
correctly that “the transmigration of souls is generally misinterpreted as the passing 
of a soul from one person to another. . . . What actually takes place is that the In¬ 
dividual [ized] God-Soul incarnates again and again until It attains the aim of 
incarnating as a Seeker who will go upon the Quest and eventually lose individuality 
and become one with the freed God-Soul” (The Tradition of Silence in Myth and 
Legend, Boston, 1940, p. 63). Notable repudiations of reincarnationist interpreta¬ 
tion will be found in Hicrocles on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras, tr. N. Rowe 
(London, 1906), v.53; in Hermes, Lib. x.19-22; and in Marsilio Ficino, who held, 
in the words of Kristellcr, that “wherever Plato seems to speak of a transmigration 
of the human soul into other natural species, we must understand by it the dif¬ 
ferent forms and habits of human life” (Paul O. Kristeller, The Philosophy of Mar¬ 
silio Ficino, New York, 1943, p. 118). Cf. Eisler, “Orphisch-Dionysische Mysterien- 
Gedanken,” p. 295. 


82 


83 










MAJOR ESSAYS 


In Christianity there is a doctrine o£ \arma (the operation of mediate 
causes) and of a fate that lies in the created causes themselves, but no 
doctrine of reincarnation. No stronger abjections of the “soul” are any¬ 
where to be found than are met with in the Christian Gospels. “No man 
can be my disciple who hateth not . . . his own soul” (iavrov <jn>xw, 
Luke 14:26); that soul which “he who hateth in this world shall keep it 
unto life eternal” (John 12:25), hut which “whoever seeks to save, shall 
lose” (Luke 9:25). Compared with the Disposer ( conditor = samdhatr ), 
other beings “are neither beautiful, nor good, nor are at all” ( nec sunt , 
St. Augustine, Confessions xi.4). The central doctrine has to do with 
the “descent” ( avatarana ) of a Soter whose eternal birth was "before 
Abraham ’ and “through whom all things were made.” This One him¬ 
self declares that “no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came 
down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven” (John 
3:13); and says, moreover, “Whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21), 
and that “If any man would follow me, let him deny himself” (Mark 
8:24).” 

“The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two- 
edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul (ipvxy) 
from spirit (it vevfia, Heb. 4:12).” When St. Paul, who distinguishes 
the Inner and the Outer Man (11 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 3:16), says of himself, 
“I live, yet not /, but Christ in me” (Gal. 2:20) 70 he has denied himself, 
has lost his soul to save it and knows “in whom, when he departs hence, 
he will be departing"; what survives ( atisisyate ) will not be “this man,” 
Paul, but—the Savior himself. In Sufi terms, “St. Paul” is “a dead man 
walking.” 77 

When the Savior’s visible presence is withdrawn he is represented in 

15 “Man should strive for this, that he turn his thoughts away from himself and 
all creatures and know no father but God alone” (Meister Eckhart, Pfeiffer ed., p. 
421). Much more is implied than a merely ethical “self-denial.” On our two selves, cf. 
also Jacob Boehmc, Signatura rerum ix.65. 

76 In the same sense St. Paul writes to his disciples, “For ye are dead, and your 
life is hid with Christ in God . . . who is our life” (Col. 3:3, 4). 

For a discussion of the implications of St. Paul’s words sec 6. Mersch, The Whole 
Christ, tr. John R. Kelly (London, 1949), 11.274 ff. (1936). Thus for Cajetan they 
mean that Christ is the sole thinker, seer, actor, etc. in “Paul.” Barthelemy of Medina 
maintained that whatever good works “we” do are really done by Christ in us as 
sole agent. 

17 Like Abu Bakr; see RumI, Mathnawi vi.747-749. In this sense the saying, “Die 
before ye die,” is attributed to Muhammad. 


84 


ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 


us by the Counsellor (rrapdicX^To ?), 78 “Even the Spirit of Truth (to 
TrvevfUl 77)9 dX-rideiaq) . . . which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father 
will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, . . . He will lead 
you into all truth” (John 14:17, 26; 16:13). him we cannot but see 
Plato’s immanent Aafpcot' and 'Hyepcuv, 79 “who cares for nothing but 
the truth” and whom God has given to each one of us “to dwell along 
with him and in him” ( Hippias major 288D, Timaeus 90AB); St. Au¬ 
gustine’s Ingenium, the scholastic Synteresis, Dante’s Amor, and our 
Inwyt or Conscience in its fullest (and not merely ethical) significance. 

“His world is the World-indced, 80 whose Self, the All-maker, All¬ 
doer, who indwells this abysmal bodily-composite, has been found and 
is awakened ( yasyanuvittah pratibuddha dtmd ) B1 . . . the Lord of what 
hath been and shall be. . . . Desiring him only for their World, the 
Travellers ( pravrajin) abandon this world” (BU iv.4.13, 15, 22)—“lest the 
Last Judgment come and find me unannihilate, and I be seiz’d and 
bound and given into the hands of my own selfhood" (William Blake). 

Only, indeed, if we recognize that Christ and not “I” is our real Self 
and the only experient in every living being can we understand the 
words, “I was an hungered ... I was thirsty . . . Inasmuch as ye have 
done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto 
me” (Matt. 26:35 ft.). ^ * s from this point of view that Meister Eckhart 
speaks of the man who knows himself as “seeing thy Self in everyone, 
and everyone in thee” (Evans ed., II, 132), as the Bhagavad Gita speaks 
of the unified man as “everywhere seeing the same Lord universally 
hypostasized, the Self established in all beings and all beings in the Self” 
(vi.29 with xm.28). Were it not that whatever we do to “others” is 
thus really done to our Self that is also their Self, there would be no 
metaphysical basis for any doing to “others” as we would be done by; 
the principle is implicit in the rule and only more explicit elsewhere. 
The command to “hate” our relatives (Luke 14:26) must be understood 

78 Cathedram habet in caclo qui intus corda docct (St. Augustine, hi cpist. foannis 
ad Parthos). Omne verum, a quocumque dicatur, cst a spiritu sancto (St. Ambrose 
on 1 Cor. 13:3). Dhiyo yo nah pracodayat (RV 111.62.10) . . . yo buddhyantastho 
dhyayiha (MU vi.34). 

78 Atmano 'tma ncla 'mrtah, MU vi.7. Vi'svo devasya ( savitur) netur marto vurita 
sa\hyam, RV v.50.1. 

80 “World" ( lo\a ) here absolutely (as in BU 1.4.15-17, 1.5.17; CU 1.9.3; MU vi.24; 
SB 1.8.1.31, etc., where the contingent and real worlds are contrasted); the Kingdom 
of Heaven, “within you” (BU m.9.17, 25). 

81 Pratibuddha agreeing with atma, not with yasya. Cf. BD vn.57 ( n - 85). 


85 





MAJOR ESSAYS 

from the same point of view: “others” are no more valid objects of love 
than “I” am; it is not as “our” relatives or neighbors that they are to 
be loved, but as our Self (atmanas tu \dmdya, BU 11.4.5); 82 just as it 
is only himself that God loves in us, so it is God we ought to love in 
one another. 

Upon this immanent Spirit of Truth, the Divine Eros, our very life 
depends, until we “give up the ghost”—the Holy Ghost. “It is the Spirit 
that quickeneth; the flesh avails nothing” (John 6:63). “The power of 
the soul, which is in the semen through the Spirit enclosed therein, 
fashions the body” {Sum. Theol. 1n.3a.11). 83 This is the “Sower (6 crrm- 
puv) went forth to sow. . . . Some fell upon stony places. . . . But other 
fell into good ground. . . . The field is the world” (Matt. 13:3-9, 37)— 
sadasad yonim dpadyate (MU 111.2). 84 And is this Divine Eros, the “Know- 
erof the Field" (BG xm), any other than the Prodigal Son “who was dead, 
and is alive again; and was lost, and is found”—dead for so long as he had 
forgotten who he was, and alive again “when he came to himself” 85 (Luke 
15:11 ff.) ? 

It has been said, “Ye crucify him daily" (cf. Heb. 6:6), and so assuredly 
does every man who is convinced that “I am” or “I do” and therewith di¬ 
vides up this One conceptually into many independent and possible be¬ 
ings. 88 Of all the conclusions to be drawn from the doctrine of the One 


82 So “a man, out of charity, ought to love himself more than he loves any other 
person. . . more than his neighbor" (Sum. Theol. 11-11.26.4). Cf. BU 11.4.1-9 (mutual 
love is not of one another as such, but of the immanent spiritual Self); Hermes, 
Lib. iv.6b; Aristotle, Nichomachcan Ethics ix.8; and Marsilio Ficino, originator of 
the term "Platonic love,” importing that “true love between two persons is by 
nature a common love for God” (Kristeller, The Philosophy 0/ Marsilio Ficino, 
pp. 279, 287). 

83 "He who, dwelling in the semen, yet is other than die semen, unseen Seer, un¬ 
thought Thinker . . . Inner Controller” (BU m.7.23), “who grasps and erects the 
flesh” (Kaus. Up. 111.3). Say not ‘from semen’” (BU 111.9.28.5), for “without the 
Breath semen is not effused, or if it be, it will decay, and not produce” (AA 111.2.2). 

84 Cf. Plato, Timacus 41 and 69, where God, the Maker and Father, instructs the 
gods, his sons, as subservient causes, to bring together the mortal part of creatures, 
but “as for that immortal part, which we call the Divine Guide (Dctov . . . rp/t- 
povovv), that part I will deliver unto you when I have sown it (mrelpas . . . iyw 
7 tapaS<D<jio) •" 

85 “Came to himself,” ek iavrov 81 e\ 6 d>v- Sayana on RV iv.27.1, dtmdnam janan; 
BD vn.57, tatah sa buddhva dtmdnam; Sayana on BU 1.4.10, menu smarasy dtmdnam. 

86 RV x.90.11, \atidha vy akalpayan, “How manyfold did they divide him?”; con¬ 
versely AB 1.18, na vai na ittham vihrto'nnam bhavisyati, hantemam yajham sambha- 
rama, “It will not suffice for our food that we have dismembered the Sacrifice, come, 
let us gather him together again.” 

86 


ONE AND ONLY TRANSMIGRANT 

and Only Transmigrant, the most poignant is this, that whereas He is 
the bird caught in the net, the Ram caught in the thicket, the sacrificial 
Victim and our Savior, he cannot save us except and unless we, by the 
sacrifice and denial of our self, also save Him A 

87 As is also implied in the Christian doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. Cf. 
St. Augustine, “When we all sing, it is that One Man who sings in us” (In Ps. 136); 
in praying, we should not say "we” but “I,” because although it is actually a multi¬ 
tude that speaks severally, really “it is that One Man who speaks, who is dis¬ 
tributed throughout the world” (In Ps. 122); and so, "If, on the one hand, we die 
in him and in him are resurrected, he on the other hand dies and is resurrected 
in us" (Epist. 140). 

The Doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ is represented in Buddhism by that 
of the Buddha, Dhamma and Samgha. It is in the Samgha ( \/samhan) that the 
distributed Buddha-nature is reintegrated; in this communion those separated mem¬ 
bers are reunited, which Prajapati "could not put together again" (na sasdl^a satpha- 
tum, SB 1.6.3.36) otherwise than by means of the Sacrifice in which the sacrificer 
(identified with the oblation) and the Sacrifice are jointly regenerated. 


87 










AKIMCANNA: SELF-NAUGHTING 



Akimcanna: Self-Naughting 1 


Vivo autem, jam non ego Gal. 2:20 

Eya diz so/te du sele scheiden von allem dem, daz iht ist. 

Eckhart, Pfeiffer ed., p. 525 

Her umbe sol dcr mcnsche geftizzen sin, daz er sich entbilde 
sin selbes unt alien creature noc\ \einen voter wizze dcnnc 
got alleine. . . . His ist alien menschen jremde . . . ich wolde, 
das irz bejunden hetet mit lebenne. 

Eckhart, Pfeiffer ed., pp. 421, 464 

When thou standest still from the thinking of self, and the 
willing of self 

Jacob Boehme, Dialogues on the Supcrsensual Life 


An egomania occasioned the fall of Lucifer, who would be “like the most 
High” (Isa. 14:14), thinking, “Who is like me in Heaven or Earth?” 
(Tabari xxiv), and desiring to deify himself (Augustine, Quaestiones 
veteris et novi testamenti exm), not in the way discussed below by an 
abnegation of selfhood, but, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, “by the virtue 
of his own nature” and “of his own power” (Sum. Theol. 1.63.3c). We are 
all to a greater or less extent egomaniacs, and to the same extent fol¬ 
lowers of Satan. Acts 5:36 refers to a certain Theudas as “boasting him¬ 
self to be somebody.” 

In the vernacular, when a man is presumptuous, we ask him, “Who do 
you think you are?” and when we refer to someone’s insignificance, we 
call him a “nobody” or, in earlier English, a “nithing.” In this worldly 
sense it is a good thing to be “someone” and a misfortune to be “nobody,” 
and from this point of view we think well of “ambition” ( iti-bhavabhava 
tanha). To be “someone” is to have a name and lineage (ndma-gotta) or, 
at least, to have a place or rank in the world, some distinction that makes 
us recognizable and conspicuous. Our modern civilization is essentially 
individualistic and self-assertive, even our educational systems being more 

[This essay was first published in the New Indian Antiquary, m (1940 ).—ed.] 

1 As the title implies, this study is mainly based on Christian and Buddhist sources. 

88 


and more designed to foster “self-expression” and “self-realization”; and 
if we are at all concerned about what happens after death, it is in terms 
of the survival of our treasured “personality” 2 with all its attachments 
and memories. 

On the other hand, in the words of Eckhart, “Holy scripture cries aloud 
for freedom from self.” In this unanimous and universal teaching, which 
affirms an absolute liberty and autonomy, spatial and temporal, attainable 
as well here and now as anywhere else, this treasured “personality” of 
ours is at once a prison and a fallacy, from which only the Truth shall 
set you free: 3 a prison, because all definition limits that which is defined, 
and a fallacy because in this ever-changing composite and corruptible 
psychophysical “personality” it is impossible to grasp a constant, and im¬ 
possible therefore to recognize any authentic or “real” substance. Insofar as 
man is merely a “reasoning and mortal animal,” tradition is in agreement 
with the modern determinist in affirming that “this man,” So-and-so (yo- 
yamdyasma evam tidmo evam gotto , S 111.25) has neither free will 4 

2 We write “personality" because we are using the word here in its vulgar sense 
and not in the stricter and technical sense in which the veritable “person" is dis¬ 
tinguished from the phenomenal "individual,” e.g., in AA n.3.2 and Boethius, 
Contra Evtychen 11. 

3 The doctrine is one of escape and the pursuit of happiness. It will not be con¬ 
fused with what has been called escapism. Escapism is an essentially selfish activity, 
failure to “face the music” (as when one “drowns one’s sorrows in drink”), and 
the choice of easier paths; escapism is a symptom of disappointment and is cynical 
rather than mature. We need hardly say that to “wish one had never been born” 
is the antithesis of the perfect sorrow that may be occasioned by the sense of a con¬ 
tinued existence: we are born in order to die, but this death is not one that can 
be attained by suicide or by suffering death at the hands of others; it is not of our¬ 
selves or others, but only of God that it can be said in the words of St. John of the 
Cross, “and, slaying, dost from death to life translate.” 

At the same time, the true way of “escape” is more strenuous by far than the life 
that is escaped (hence the designation of the religious in India as a “Toiler,” srama- 
na), and it is the degree of a man’s maturity (in Skr. the extent to which he is 
pa\va , “pukka,” and no longer ama, “raw”) that is the measure of the possibility 
of his escape and consequent beatitude. 

'The minds of some arc set on Union (yoga), the minds of others on comfort 
(kfema)” (TS n.5.11.5; cf. KU 11.1-4). 

4 The denial of freedom in “this man,” the individual, is explicit in Sn 350, “It 
does not belong to the manv-folk to do what they will (na l{amal{aro hi puthujja- 
nanam)." Cf. “Ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17). This denial is 
made in a very striking manner in Vin 1.13-14 and S 111.66-67, where for the usual 
formula according to which the body and mentality are anatta, not I, nor mine, the 
proof is offered that this body, sensibility, etc., cannot be “mine,” cannot be “I,” 
for if these were myself, or mine, they would never be sick, since in this case one 
could say, “Let my body, sensibility, etc., be thus, or not-thus,” nothing being really 

89 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

nor any element of immortality. How little validity attaches to this man’s 
conviction of freedom will appear if we reflect that while we speak of 
“doing what we like,” we never speak of “being when we like,” and that 
to conceive of a spatial liberty that is not also a temporal liberty involves 
a contradiction. Tradition, however, departs from science by replying 
to the man who confesses himself to be only a reasoning and mortal 
animal that he has “forgotten who he is” (Boethius, De consolatione 
philosophiae, prose vi), requires of him to “Know thyself,” 5 and warns him 
“If thou knowest not thyself, begone” (si ignoras te, egredere, Song of 
Solomon, 1:8). Tradition, in other words, affirms the validity of our con¬ 
sciousness of being but distinguishes it from the So-and-so that we think 
we are. The validity of our consciousness of being is not established in 
metaphysics (as it is in philosophy) by the fact of thought or knowledge; 
on the contrary, our veritable being is distinguished from the operations 
of discursive thought and empirical knowing, which are simply the caus¬ 
ally determined workings of the “reasoning and mortal animal,” which 
are to be regarded yathabhiitam, not as affects but only as effects in which 
we (in our veritable being) are not really, but only supposedly, involved. 

ours except to the extent that wc have it altogether in our power, nor anything 
variable any part of an identity such as the notion of a “very person" ( satpurusa) 
intends. A further consideration is this, that if the becoming (bhava) of the finite 
individual were not absolutely determined by “fate," “mediate causes," or "karma" 
(the terms are synonymous), the idea of an omniscient providence (prajna, patina, 
knowledge of things not derived from the things themselves) would be unintelligible. 
In this connection we may remark that we are not, of course, concerned to prove 
dialectically any doctrine whatever, but only to exhibit its consistency and there¬ 
with its intelligibility. This consistency of the Philosophia Perennis is indeed good 
ground for “faith” (i.e., confidence, as distinguished from mere belief), but as this 
“philosophy” is neither a “system” nor a "philosophy,” it cannot be argued for 
or against. 

5 E.g., Avencebrol, Fons vitae 1.2, “quid est ergo, quod debet homo inquiererc 
in hac vita? . . . hoc est ut sciat se ipsum.” Cf. Jacob Boehme, De signatura rerum 
1.1. The reader will not confuse the “science of self” (atmavidya) here with that 
intended by the psychologist, whether ancient or modern; as remarked by Edmond 
Vansteenberghe, the yvtoQi aeavrov with which Nicholas of Cusa opens his De docta 
tgnorantia “n’est plus le 'Connais-toi toi-mcmc’ du psychologuc Socratc, e’est le ‘Sois 
maitre de toi’ (= Dh 160, 380, atta hi attano natho) des moralistes sto'iciens” (Au- 
tour de la docte ignorance, Munster, 1915, p. 42), In the same way, the only raison 
d'etre of “Buddhist psychology” is not “scientific,” but to break down the illusion of 
self. The modern psychologist’s only concern and curiosity are with the all-too-human 
self, that very self which even in its highest and least suspected extensions is still 
a prison. Traditional metaphysics has nothing in common with this psychology, 
which restricts itself to “what can be psychically experienced” (Jung’s own defini¬ 
tion). 

90 


AKIMCANNA: SELF-NAUGHTING 

Tradition, then, differs from the “nothing-morist” (Skr. ndsti\a, Pali 
natthika) in affirming a spiritual nature that is not in any wise, but im¬ 
measurable, inconnumerable, infinite, and inaccessible to observation, and 
of which, therefore, empirical science can neither affirm nor deny the 
reality. It is to this “spirit” 6 (Gk. nvevpa, Skr. atman, Pali atta, Arabic 
ruh, etc.) as distinguished from body and soul—i.e., whatever is phe¬ 
nomenal and formal (Gk. ao>p.a and <p v XV> Skr. and Pali nama-rupa, and 
savijnana-\aya, savihhana-\dya, “name and appearance,” the “body with 
its consciousness”)—that tradition attributes with perfect consistency an 
absolute liberty, spatial and temporal. Our sense of free will is as valid 
in itself as our sense of being, and as invalid as our sense of being So-and-so. 
There is a free will, a will, that is, unconstrained by anything external to 
its own nature; but it is only “ours” to the extent that we have abandoned 
all that we mean in common sense by “ourselves” and our “own” willing. 
Only His service is perfect freedom. “Fate lies in the created causes them¬ 
selves” (Sum. Theol. 1.116.2); “Whatever departeth farthest from the First 
Mind is involved more deeply in the meshes of Fate [i.e., {arma, the in¬ 
eluctable operation of “mediate causes”]; and everything is so much freer 
from Fate by how much it draweth nigh to the pivot of all things. And 
if it sticketh to the constancy of the Supernal Mind, that needs not move, 
it is superior to the necessity of Fate” (Boethius, De consolatione philoso¬ 
phiae, prose iv). This freedom of the Unmoved Mover (“that which, itself 
at rest, outgoeth them that run,” Isa Up. iv) from any necessitas coac- 
tionis is that of the spirit that bloweth where and as it will (oirov 6e\a 
stvfi, John 3:8; carati yatha vasam, RV x.168.4). 7 To possess it, one must 
have been “born again ... of the Spirit” (John 37-8) and thus “in the 
spirit” (St. Paul, passim), one must have “found and awakened to the 
Spirit 6 (yasyanuvittah pratibuddha atma, BU iv.4.13),” must be in excessus 

6 The phenomena of this “spirit” (the realizations of its possibilities of manifesta¬ 
tion under given conditions) are all phenomena whatever, among which those 
called “spiritualistic” have no privileged rank; on die contrary, "a mouse is miracle 
enough....” 

7 RV x.168.3-4, John 37-8, and Gyljaginning 18 present remarkable parallels [cf. 
Edda Snorra Sturlusonar mod Skaldatali, ed. Gudni Jonsson (Reykjavik, 1935)-— 

ED.]. 

8 “He who sees, thinks and discriminates this Spirit, whose pleasure and play are 
with the Spirit, whose dalliance is with the Spirit fas in BU iv.3.21, “All creation is 
female to God’’] and whose joy is in the Spirit, he becomes autonomous (svaraj), 
he becomes a Mover-at-will (\amacarin) in every w-orld; but the worlds of him 
whose knowledge is otherwise than this are corruptible, he does not become a 
Mover-at-will in any world” (CU vn.25.2). The conception of motion-at-will is 
developed in many texts, from RV ix.ri3-9, “Make me undying there where motion 

91 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


(“gone out of” oneself, one’s senses), in samadhi (etymologically and se¬ 
mantically “synthesis”), unified ( e\o bhutah, cf. ekodi-bhava) , or in 
other words “dead” in the sense that “the kingdom of God is for none but 
the thoroughly dead” (Eckhart), and in the sense that Rum! speaks of a 
“dead man walking” ( Mathnawi vi.742-755), or again that of initiatory 
death as the prelude to a regeneration. There is not, of course, any neces¬ 
sary connection between liberation and physical death : 9 a man can as well 
be liberated “now in the time of this life” (ditthe va dhamme parinibbuto, 
jivun mu\ta) as at any other time, all depending only upon his remem¬ 
bering “who he is," and this is the same as to forget oneself, to “hate one’s 
own life” (psyche, “soul,” or “self,” Luke 14:26), deficere a se tota and 
a semetipsa liquescere (St. Bernard), 10 the “death of the soul” (Eckhart), 

is at will" (yatranukamam caranam . . . mam amrtam \rdhi), onwards. The Chris¬ 
tian equivalent can be found in John 3:8 and 10:9 (“shall go in and out, and find 
pasture,” as in TU ni.10.5, “he goes up and down these worlds, eating what he will 
and assuming what aspect he will"). 

Motion-at-will is a necessary consequence of filiation or deification, the Spirit mov¬ 
ing "as it will" in virtue of its omni- and total presence and because "he that is joined 
unto the Lord is one Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17), all possession of "powers" ( rddhi , iddhi, 
such as flying through the air or walking on the water) being gifts of the Spirit and 
depending upon a more or less ablatio omnis altcritalis et diversitatis (Nicholas of 
Cusa). In other words, our freedom and beatitude are the less the more we are still 
“ourselves,” un tel. The “miracle” is never an “impossibility,” but only so according 
to our way of thinking: performance is always the demonstration of a possibility. 
It is not opposites (as “possible” and “impossible"), but contraries—for example, rest 
and motion—both of which are “possibles,” that are reconciled in divinis. “Primi¬ 
tive” languages retain the stamp of this polarity in words which may mean either 
of two contrary things (cf. Freud on Abel, “Gcgcnsinn der Urwort” in ]ahrbuch 
fur psychoanalytische und psychopathologische Forschungen, II 1910, and Betty Hei- 
mann, “The Polarity of the Infinite," JISOA, V, 1937). 

It may be added that because of the identity of the immanent and transcendent 
Spirit (1 Cor. 6:17; “That art thou” of the Upanisads, etc.), we make no real dis¬ 
tinction in the present article between “my spirit” (the “ghost” that we "give up” at 
death) and “the Spirit” (the Holy Ghost), although sometimes writing “spirit” 
with reference to the immanent essence ( antaratman ) and “Spirit” with reference 
to the transcendent essence (paramatman). So far as a distinction can be made, it is 
“logical but not real” ( secundum rationcm, non secundum rem). 

9 “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return 
unto God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7). Our sense of being may be “in the spirit” or 
“in the dust,” and so either “saved or lost.” It is well for him “who has been of 
strength to awaken before the body is unstrung” (KU vi.4). 

10 For St. Bernard, see Etienne Gilson, La Theologic mystique de Saint Bernard 
(Paris, 1934)1 ch. 5. How close to Indian formulation St. Bernard comes appears in 
his distinction of proprium from esse (mama from atta) and in Rousselet's summary 
(ibid., p. 150, n. 2) “ Cela revient a dire qu’on ne peut pleinement posseder Dieu 
sans pleinement se posseder soi-meme,” at the same time that (ibid., p. 152, n. 1) 


92 


AKIMCAflNA: SELF-NAUGHTING 


“nothing else than that the spirit goeth out of itself, out of time, and 
entereth into a pure nothingness” (Johannes Tauler), becoming thus “free 
as the Godhead in its non-existence” (Eckhart); to have said “Thy will 
be done, not mine” or, in other words, to have been perfected in “Islam.” 11 

Man has thus two selves, lives or “souls,” one physical, instinctive, and 
mortal, the other spiritual and not in any way conditioned by time or 
space, but of which the life is a Now “where every where and every when 
is focused” (Paradiso xxix.12), and “apart from what has been or shall 
be” (KU 11.14), that “now that stands still” of which we as temporal 
beings, knowing only a past and future, can have no empirical experience. 
Liberation is not a matter only of shaking off the physical body—oneself 
is not so easily evaded—but, as Indian texts express it, of shaking off all 
bodies, mental or psychic as well as physical. “The word of God is quick 
and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to 
the dividing asunder of soul ('jivxq) and spirit (rrmi/m) ” (Heb. 4:12). 
It is between these two that our choice lies: between ourselves as we are 
in ourselves and to others, and ourselves as we are in God—not forgetting 
that, as Eckhart says, “Any flea as it is in God is higher than the highest 
of the angels as he is in himself.” Of these two “selves” the psychophysical 

"II n'y a plus de suum, l'etre s'est vide de lui-meme," as in SB 111.8.1.2-3, where 
the initiated sacrificer is "as if emptied out of himself" (riricana ivatma bhavati) in 
order to enter into possession of his “whole self” (sarvatmanam), or as in A 1.249, 
where the man who “has brought into full being body, will and foreknowing 
(bhdmta-khyo, <itto, -panho —i.e., whole self) is not emptied out (aparitto — apra- 
ril(ta) but the Great Spiritual-Self of which (he way is beyond all measure (mahatta 
appamana vihari)." 

11 As far as possible this clear distinction of “Soul” (ipvxV’ an ‘ ma ’ na l s > vedana, 
etc.) from “spirit” (irvcvpa, spiritus, ruh, atman, etc.) is maintained in the present 
article; cf. Origen, cited by Eckhart (Pfeiffer ed., p. 531) “din geist ist dir niht 
genomen: die kreftc diner sele sint dir genomen” (“It is not thy spirit, but the pow¬ 
ers of thy soul [= indriyani] that art taken from thee”). It must also be recognized, 
however, that in the European tradition the word “soul” is used in many senses 
(for example, “animal” is literally "ensouled,” anima here as spiraculum vitae-, cf. 
Skr. prana-bhrt) and that in one of these senses (which is strictly that of Philo’s 
“soul of the soul,” Hcrcs lv; cf. Augustine, De duabis animabis contra Manicheos) 
“soul” means “spirit.” In what sense “soul” is or is not to be taken to mean “spirit” 
is discussed by William of Thierry in the Golden Epistle, l (p. 87 in Walter Skew- 
ring’s English version, London, 1930). In the same way, atman may refer to the 
psychophysical “self’ or to the spiritual self; from the latter point of view, the 
psychophysical self is anatta, “not spiritual”! 

It is because both “soul” and “spirit” are selves, although of very different orders, 
that an equivocation is inevitable. The use of the words in their context has always 
to be very carefully considered; the proper sense can always be made out. 


93 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


and spiritual, one is the “life” ($vxi) to be rejected and the other the 
“life” that is thereby saved (Luke 17:33 and Matt. 16:25), an d of these 
again the former is that “life” (i/ivx 1 ?) which “he who hateth ... in this 
world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:25) ar >d which a man 
must hate, “if he would be my disciple” (Luke 14 .-26). It is assuredly all 
that is meant by psyche in our “psychology” that is in this way le moi 
haissable; all of us, in fact, that is subject to affects or affections or wants 
of any sort, or entertains “opinions of his own.” 12 

The unknown author of the Cloud of Unknowing is therefore alto¬ 
gether in order when he says so poignantly (ch. 44) that “All men have 
matter of sorrow: but most specially he feeleth matter of sorrow, that 
wotteth and feeleth that he is. . . . And whoso never felt this sorrow, he 
may make sorrow: for why, he never yet felt perfect sorrow. 13 This sor¬ 
row, when it is had . . . maketh a soul able to receive that joy, the which 
recveth from a man all witting and feeling of his being.” And so also 
William Blake, when he says, “I would go down unto Annihilation and 
Eternal Death, lest the Last Judgment come and find me Unannihilatc, 
and I be seiz’d and giv’n into the hands of my own Selfhood.” 14 In the 
same way St. Paul, vivo, autem jam non ego: vivit vero in me Christus 
(Gal. 2:20) [and RumI, “He has died to self and become living through 
the Lord” (Mathnawi 111.3364)]. 

12 Cf. the citation from Jacob Boehmc at the head of this article. It is compara¬ 
tively easy for us to admit that a “self-willing” is egotistical; it is far more difficult 
but equally indispensable to realize that a “self-thinking”—i.e., “thinking for one¬ 
self” or “having opinions of one’s own”—is as much an error or “sin,” defined as 
“any departure from the order to the end,” as any wilfulncss can be. A good case 
of “thinking for oneself” is what is called the “free examinadon of scripture”; here, 
as was remarked by David Maclver, “the number of possible objections to a point 
of doctrine is equal to the number of ways of misunderstanding it, and therefore 
infinite.” 

13 Vairagya, “dis-gust,” as distinguished from asa bhanga, “disappointment”: nc\- 
kjiamana-sita as distinguished from gc/ia-sita in S iv.232 and in Mil 76. Cf. Kara Oebv 
\virrj as distinguished from row koit/i.hv \v 7 n/ in 1 Cor. 7:10. 

14 As remarked by St. Thomas Aquinas {Sum. Theol. 1.63.3), “no creature can 
attain a higher grade of nature without ceasing to exist,” which self-denial is a 
thing “against the natural desire.” It is not of its “own” will that the creature can 
desire its own “annihilation” or “death" [cf. Meister Eckhart, Evans ed., I, 274]. But 
our consciousness of being (as distinguished from any conceit of being So-and-so or 
Such-and-such) is precisely not the “creature”; it is another will in me than “mine,” 
the lover of another (S iv.158) self than “mine” that “longs intensely for the Great 
Self” ( mahattam abhi\bhan\ata, A 11.21)—i.e., for Itself. This does not pertain to 
our self-love, but God’s, who is in all things self-intent and loves no one but himself. 
[“Thus we understand how a life perishes. ... If it will not give itself up to death, 
then it cannot attain any other world” (Boehme, Sex puncta v.io).] 


94 


AKIMCANNA: SELF-NAUGHTING 

We are sometimes shocked by the Buddhist disparagement of natural 
affections and family ties [cf. MU vi.28, “If to son and wife and family he 
is attached—for such a one, no, never at all!”]. But it is not the Christian 
who can thus recoil, for no man can be Christ’s disciple “and hate not 
his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters,” 
as well as himself (Luke 14:26 [cf. Plato, Phaedo 68a]). These uncom¬ 
promising words, from one who endorsed the command to honor father 
and mother and who equated contempt with murder, show clearly enough 
that it is not an ethical doctrine of unselfishness or altruism that we are 
dealing with but a purely metaphysical doctrine of the transcending of 
individuation. It is in the same sense that he exclaims, “Who is my mother, 
or my brethren?” (Mark 3:33, etc.), and accordingly that Meister Eck¬ 
hart warns, “As long as thou still knowest who thy father and thy mother 
have been in time, thou art not dead with the real death” (Pfeiffer ed., 
p. 462). 

There can be no return of the prodigal, no “turning in” ( nivrtti ), except 
of same to same. “Whoever serves a God, of whom he thinks that ‘He is 
one and I another,’ is an ignoramus” (BU 1.4.10); “If then you do not 
make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God: for like is known 
by like” (Hermes, Lib. xi.2.2ob). The question is asked of the one who 
comes home, “Who art thou?” and if he answers by his own or a family 
name, he is dragged away by the factors of time on the threshold of suc¬ 
cess (JUB 1n.14.1-2) : 15 “. . . that ill-fated soul is dragged back again, re¬ 
verses its course, and having failed to know itself, lives in bondage to un- 

15 The traveler, at the end of life’s journey (not necessarily on his deathbed), 
knocks at the Sundoor (as in JUB, etc.), which is the door of the house of Death 
(as in KU) and that of Yama’s paradise (as in RV), and would be received as a 
guest or, as expressed in Pali, amata-dvaram ahacca titthati (S 11.43). Admission, 
however, depends upon anonymity, with all its implications of "being in the spirit” 
(atmany ctya mukjia adatte , “going in the spirit, the gate accepts him,” JUB 111.33.8). 
There can be no doubt that the same mythical and profound eschatology underlies 
the Homeric legend of Ulysses and Polyphemus. The latter is assuredly Death. (His 
one eye corresponds to Siva’s third; that it is blinded and thus “closed” means that 
the world illumined by sun and moon, the two eyes of the gods, is to persist for 
Ulysses and his companions. It must be an initiatory, not a final death that is over¬ 
come, as is also suggested by the “cave”.) His land which yields crops unfilled is a 
Paradise, like Yama’s or Varuna’s; Ulysses would be his guest. The story, as told 
by Homer (and Euripides), has become an adventure rather than a myth, but it 
remains that the hero who overcomes Death is the one man who when he is asked, 
“Who art thou?” answers, “No one”; and it is noteworthy that in die Euripides ver¬ 
sion, when die blinded Cyclops cries out, “Where is Nobody?” the chorus answers, 
“Nowhere, O Cyclops.” It would be hard to say whether Homer still “understood 
his material”; it may be taken for granted that Euripides did not. 


95 







MAJOR ESSAYS 


couth and miserable bodies. The fault of this soul is its ignorance” 16 
(Hermes, Lib. x.8a). He should answer, “Who I am is the light Thou 
art. What heavenly light Thou art, as such I come to Thee,” and answer¬ 
ing thus is welcomed accordingly, “Who thou art, that am I; and who 
I am, art thou. Come in” (JUB ni.14.3-4). To the question, “Who is at 
the door?” he answers, “ Thou art at the door,” and is welcomed with 
the words, “Come in, O myself” (Rurnl, Matknawi 1.3062-3). It is not as 
un tel that he can be received—“Whoever enters, saying ‘I am So-and-so,’ 
I smite him in the face” ( Shams-i-Tabriz ); as in Song of Solomon 1.7, 
si ignoras te,. . . egredere. 

“He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17). But this 
Spirit ( atm an ), Brahman, God, the “What?” of JUB in.14, “hath not 
come any whence nor become anyone” (KU 11.18). The Imperishable has 
neither personal nor family name (BU ni.8.8, Madhyamdina text) nor 
any caste (Mund. Up. 1.1.6); “God himself does not know what he is, 
because he is not any what” 17 (Erivgena); the Buddha is “neither priest 
nor prince nor husbandman nor any one at all ( \oci no'mhi ).... I wander 
in the world a veritable naught ( akimcana ). . . . Useless to ask my kin” 
(gottam, Sn 455-456). 18 

18 Cf. Dh 243 where, after a list of “faults,” we have: “the supreme fault is ig¬ 
norance” ( savijja paramam malam). 

17 The deiformed soul in which an ablatio omnis alteritatis et diversitatis has been 
effected (Nicholas of Cusa) is therefore beyond our speechways ( vadapatha, Sn 
1076): “unknown to herself or any creature, she knows well that she is, but she 
does not know what she is” (Meister Eckhart, Pfeiffer cd., p. 537). 

18 In the same way, the famous ode xxxi of Shamsd-Tabnz [Rumi, Divan], 
“• • • I know not myself . . . ; I am not of Adam nor of Eve . . . ; my place is the 
Placeless, my trace is the Traceless; nor body nor life, since I am of the life of 
the Beloved” (na tan nasad na fan nasad, k> man az jan janan-am). Nicholson com¬ 
ments: “'I am nought’ means 'God is all.’” From the Indian point of view, the 
"Beloved” is, of course, “the Spirit, which is also one’s own spiritual essence”—“For 
one who has attained, there is none dearer than the Spirit” or “than the Self” (na 
piyataram at tana, S 1.75; cf. BU 1.4.8, tad etat prey ah putrat . . . ydd ay am alma . . . 
atmanam eva priyam upasita; BU 11.4; BU iv.5; CU vn.25; [Mund. Up. 11.2.1 ff.]; 
etc.). With “traceless” compare Dh 179, tarn buddham anantagocaram padam, \ena 
padena nessatha, “that Buddha, whose pasture is without end, the foodess [or track¬ 
less], by what track can you find him out?” (This is complementary to the usual 
doctrine of the vestigium pedis , according to which the intelligible Buddha [or 
Agni] can be tracked by his spoor, pada or paddni.) Cf. Coomaraswamy, Elements of 
Buddhist Iconography, 1935, nn. 145 ff. “A Tathagata, I say, is actually ( dhamme ) 
beyond our ken” (ananuvejjo, M 1.140 [similarly anupalabbhi yamano, S 111.112]); 
and in the same way of Arhats “there is no demonstration” ( vattam tesam natthi 
pahhapanaya ; S 141): “Him neither gods nor men can see” (tarn cc hi nadal’Jthum, 

S 1.23). The last is spoken in the Buddha’s physical presence and corresponds to the 


96 


AKlMCANflA'. SELF-NAUGHTING 

Having drawn the outlines of the universal doctrine of self-naughting 
and of self-sacrifice or devotion in the most literal sense of the words, we 
propose to devote the remainder of our demonstration to its specifically 
Buddhist formulation in terms of dkimeannayatana , “the Station of No- 
what-ness,” or, more freely, “the Cell of Self-naughting.” “When it is 
realized that ‘There is no aught’ (natthi kimei), that is ‘Emancipation of 
the Will’ 18 (ceto-vimutti) in the ‘Station of No-what-ness’ ” (S iv.296 and 
M 1.297; D n.112). The exact meaning of “There is naught”—i.e., 

well-known text of the Vafracchediha Sutra, "Those who see me in the body (ri- 
pena) or think of me in words, they do not see me at all, their way of thinking is 
mistaken; the Blessed Ones are to be seen only in the Body of the Law, the Buddha 
can only be rightly understood as the principle of the Law, assuredly not by any 
means." Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, "Therefore if anyone in seeing God conceives 
something in his mind, this is not God, but one of God's effects” (Sum. Theol. 111.92.1 
ad 4); “We have no means for considering what God is, but rather how He is not” 
(1.3.1). [Cf. Hermes, Lib. XIII.3, ovk 6 <f> 0 a\p.oU toiovtois daupov/iai, <0 tckvov. 
“The new man, being incorporeal, can be seen only with ‘the eyes of the mind.”' 
Cf. JUB iv.19 and The Doctrine of the Sufis, A. J. Arberry, tr. (Cambridge, 
1935 ), P- 34-1 

19 Ceto-vimutti (often rendered “heart's release”) in contrasted with pahila-vimutti, 
“intellectual emancipation,” ceto and pahna denoting both the means or way of 
liberation and the respect in which liberation is obtained. The texts often speak of a 
“being free in both departments” ubhato-bhaga-vimutti, as well as of other types of 
liberation, and it is evident that the two ways, which are those of the will and che in¬ 
tellect, converge and ultimately coincide. A 11.36, ccto-vasipatto hoti vitakXa-pathesu, 
"He is a past master of the will in matters of choice [or 'matters of counsel’],” brings 
out very clearly the conative connotations of ceto, which are evident also for cetas 
in AV vi.ti6.3. S 111.60 defines san\hara as samcctana, rendered by Rhys Davids “seats 
of will.” It is clear, then, that the connection of ceto-vimutti with ahimeahha is in¬ 
trinsic, since it is just to the extent that one ceases to feel that one is anyone and to 
the extent that one loses all sense of proprium (mama) that self-willing and self¬ 
thinking must cease. It is just because ceto implies both willing and thinking that 
it is difficult to represent it by a single English word; however, it is in just the same 
way that English “to have a mind to" is the same as “to wish to” or “to want to” 
and so, too, that Skr. man, to “think," and ham, to “wish" or “want,” are virtually 
synonymous in many contexts. Pamia is not, of course, “thought” in this sense, but 
much rather “speculation” in the strict sense of this word (aditye mahat . . . adarse 
pratirupah Kau$. Up. iv.2. with very many Christian and other parallels—e.g., Sum. 
Theol. 1.12.9c, “All things are seen in God as in an intelligible mirror,” i.e., the 
speculum aetemum). It is asked in M 1.437, bow is it that some are liberated in one 
way and some in the other, the Buddha replying that it depends upon “a difference 
in faculties” (indriya-vemattatam). The difference is, in fact, typically that of the 
royal from the sacerdotal, Ksatriya from Brahman character; because of this differ¬ 
ence a bhakti-marga and \arma-marga are stressed in the Bkagavad Gita and a jhana- 
marga in the Upanisads. The two ways of ceto-vimutti (in ltivutta\a 27, identified 
widi metta, “charity”) and pahha-vimutti correspond to and are essentially the same 
as the bha\ti-marga and jnana-marga of Brahmanical texts. 


97 







MAJOR ESSAYS 

“naught of mine” 20 —is brought out in A 11.177: “The Brahman 21 speaks 
the truth and no lie when he says ‘I am naught of an anyone anywhere, 
and therein there is naught of mine anywhere soever’ ” (naham kvacani 
\assaci kjmcanam, tasmim na ca mama kvacani k att haci kjmcanam 
n’atthi\ also in M 11.263-264), 22 the text continuing, “Therewith he has no 
conceit of being ‘a Toiler’ ( samana ) or ‘a Brahman,’ nor conceit that ‘I 
am better than’ or ‘I am equal to’ or ‘inferior to’ (anyone). Moreover, by 
a full comprehension of this truth, he reaches the goal of veritable ‘naught- 
ing’ (akjmcannam yeva patipadam).” What is neither “I” nor “mine” is 
above all body, sensibility, volitional conformations, and empirical con¬ 
sciousness (i.e., the psychophysical self), and to have rejected these is “for 
your best good and beatitude” (S m.33; the chapter is entitled Natum- 
haka, “What Is Not ‘Yours’”). Accordingly, “Behold the Arhats’ beati¬ 
tude! No wanting can be found in them: excised the thought ‘I am’ 
( asmi ) ; 23 delusion’s net is rent. . . . Unmoving, unoriginated . . . Brahma- 

20 It will be seen that the Arhat or Brahman who has attained to self-naughting and 
confesses accordingly n'auhi or n’atthi I{imd might have been called a natthi\a or 
natthihavadi (“denier”). If he is never in fact so called (but, rather, sunyavadi), 
it is because these were designations current in a very different sense, with reference 
namely to the "materialist” or “skeptic” who denies that there is another world or 
hereafter (as in M 1,402-403) or takes the extreme view ( natthita) that there is ab¬ 
solutely nothing in common between the individual that acts and the individual that 
experiences the results of the acts (S 11.17). We propose to discuss this other “denier” 
upon another occasion. 

21 Pali Buddhism not only equates brahma-bhuta with buddha, brahma-cakka with 
dhamma-cakka, etc., but (where there is no polemic involved) maintains the old and 
familiar distinction of the Brahman by birth (brahma-bandhu) from the Brahman as 
Comprehensor (brahma-vit), in the latter sense equating Brahman with Arhat. 

22 Netti 183 (cited in a note on A 1.203) explains kimeana here by raga-dosa-moha — 
i.e., ethically—and this is true in the sense that when self is let go, there remains no 
ground for any “selfish” passion; /(imeana is the “somewhat” of the man who still 
feels that he is “somebody" and accordingly the ground in which interest, ill-will, and 
delusion can flourish. 

In all respects equivalent to n’atthi (Skr. nasti) is Persian nest in Shams-i-Tabriz 
(T 139.12a, cited by Nicholson, p. 233), “Be thou naught ( nest shu), naughted of 
self, for there is no crime more heinous than thine existence.” 

23 This does not imply that the Arhat “is not,” but excludes from an ineffable 
essence the process of thought. From this point of view, cogito ergo sum is altogether 
without validity; what I call "my” thinking is by no means my Self. The Arhat does 
not wonder whether he is, what he is, or how he is, has been, or will be (S 11.26, 
Sn 774). “He does not worry about what is unreal” (asattt na paritassati, M 1.136); 
he is self-synthesized ( ajjhattam susamahito, passim), and in this state of synthesis 
( samadhi ), though he is unaware of anything, “yet there is awareness in him” (S 
v.74; cf. BU iv.3.28-30). The Buddha neither teaches that nibbana is a “nothingness” 
nor that the Arhat “comes to naught”: “There is (atthi) an unborn, unbecome, un¬ 


AKIMCANNA : SELF-NAUGHTING 

become . .. true ‘Persons’ (sappurisa), natural sons of the Wake.. . . That 
heart-wood of the Brahma-life is their eternal reason; unshaken in what¬ 
ever plight, released from ‘still becoming’ ( punabbhava ), on ground of 
‘dompted [-self]’ they stand, they in the world have won their battle. . . . 
They roar the ‘Lion’s Roar.’ Incomparable are the Wake ( arahanta , 
S 111.83-84, 159).” There is no question of a post-mortem “annihilation” 
here, then, but of “Persons” triumphant here and now; their uncondi¬ 
tionality will not be changed by death, which is not an event for those 
who have “died before they die” (RumI), not an event for the jivan-mu\ta, 
the veritable diksita for whom the funeral rites have already been per¬ 
formed and for whom his relatives have already mourned (JUB m.7.9). 
Of these it is only the manifestation in terms of “name and appearance” 
( nama-rupa ) that comes to an end (as all things must that have had a 
beginning), so that after death they will be sought for in vain by Devas 
or men in this world or any other (S 1.123, D 1.46, etc.), just as one might 
seek in vain for a God any where, of whom it is asked “Whence did he 
come to be?” ( kuta a babhuva, RV x.168.3), “In what quarter is He or in 
what?” (TS v.4.3.4) and “Who knows where He is?” (KU 11.25): Thou 
“canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one 
that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). In spite of this, however, it must 
be remarked that the attainment of infinity is not a destruction of finite 
possibility, for the deceased Comprehensor, being a Mover-at-will (/(«- 
mdcarin), can always therefore reappear if, when, where, and as he will. 
Examples of this “resurrection” may be cited in JUB m.29-30 (where the 
noli me tangere offers a notable parallel to the Christian resurrection), 
and in the Parosahassa Jdta\a (No. 99), where a Bodhisattva is asked on 
his deathbed, “What good has he gotten?,” and he answers: “There is 
naught” ( n’atthi ^tme/), which is misunderstood by his disciples to 


created, uncompounded, and were there not, there would be no way out here of this 
born, become, created and compounded existence" (Ud 80); a Tathagata (see Coo- 
maraswamy, "Some Pali Words" [in this volume—ED.]) whose “ 7 am’ has been cast 
off’ ( asmimano pahino) is not “destroyed"—“It is in the very presence of such a 
Tathagata that I call him ‘past finding out’ (ananuvcjjo), and yet there are some who 
naughtily, vainly, falsely, and contrary to what is die fact (asata tuccha musa abhu- 
tena) charge that the Tathagata is a misleadcr ( venayiha ; cf. dunnaya, heresy) who 
propounds the cutting off, destruction, and ceasing to be of essences. That is just 
what I am not, and what I do not propound. The stoppage (nirodha) that I have 
reached, both of old and now, is nothing but the stoppage of Grief ( duk\hassa — 
i-e., of that which is anatta, not I nor mine),” M 1.139-140. (The coincidence of anatta 
with duk\ha corresponds exactly to the esa ta atma sarvantarah ato'nyad attam of BU 
ni.4.2.) 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


mean that he had gotten “no good” by his holy life. But when the con¬ 
versation is reported to his chief disciple, who had not been present, he 
says “You have not understood the meaning of the Master’s words. What 
the Master said was that he had attained to the ‘Station of No-what-ness’ 
(akimcahhayatana) .” 24 And thereupon the deceased Master reappears from 
the Brahma-world to confirm the chief disciple’s explanation. 25 

The man self-naughted is a happy man; not so those still conscious of 
their human ties. “Look you, how they are blest, these ‘Nobodies,’ yea 
these Comprehensors who are ‘men of naught’: and see how hindered he 
for whom there is an ‘aught,’ the man whose mind is tied up with ‘other 
men’” (Ud 14) . 28 For “to have known the forthcoming of not being 
‘anyone’ ( d\imcahhd-sambhavam ndtva) ... that is ‘gnosis’ (etam hanam, 
Sn 1115)”; this is the Way, “Perceiving that there is ‘No-what-ness’ 
( a\imcahham) . . . convinced that ‘There is not’ (n'atthi— i.e., ‘naught 
mine,’ as above), so cross the flood” (Sn 1070). And this is not an easy 
matter: “Hard to perceive what’s false ( anattam ; here probably = anr- 
tam ), 27 nor is it easy to perceive the truth ( saccam = satyam)-, he knows, 

24 It is worthy of note that Alara Kalama’s doctrine and realization extended to 
the experience of akjmcanndyatana (M 1.165). 

211 Again a sufficient proof that even in “late” Hinayana Buddhism to have become 
“no one” was by no means the same as to have been “annihilated." The Buddhist posi¬ 
tion is in no way inconsistent with the “never have I not been and never hast thou 
not been ... nor ever shall not be” of BG 11.12. It should be observed that the resur¬ 
rections of JUB 111.29-30 and the ]dta\a as cited above are wholly “in order” and 
have nothing in common with the phenomenon of spiritualism. It is as much a Bud¬ 
dhist as a Brahmanical commonplace that “the dead are not seen again amongst the 
living,” as asked in the Jata\a\ cf. CU vra. 13-14. 

28 In context the reference is to a man who steals for his wife. The contrasted terms 
are akimeana, “man of naught,” and s akimeana, “man of aught,” the man, that is, 
who “has” what he calls “his" individuality, which individuality in this case “ex¬ 
presses itself” in an act of partiality. This “man of aught” is hindered by the notions 
of “himself” and of “his” wife, the “tie” being as between these two selves, subjective 
and objective; insofar as he does not “hate” both himself and his wife, he is not the 
Buddha’s disciple but is troubled and gets into trouble. In all these contexts it must 
be remembered that it is a question of the summum bonum and man’s last end, and 
not of the “good of society,” which is not a final end. The man’s first duty is to work 
out his own salvation (Dh 166). Abandonment of self and of all ties is not only 
literally “un-self-ish,” but it is also both better and kinder to point out the way to 
happiness by following it than to be “sympathetic”—i.e., to “suffer with”—those who 
will not "seek peace, and ensue it.” 

27 The PTS editor, Paul Steinthal, reads anattam, but ms A, admittedly the best 
manuscript, has anatam, which is the form that would be assumed by anrtam in Pali 
(cf. amrtam, amatam). A commentary has anatam, but apparently in the sense of the 
“not-bent,” hence nibbana, and it must be with this in view that Woodward trans- 


100 


AKIM CAR ft A: SELF-NAUGHTING 

whose wanting has been smitten through, who sees that ‘There is naught’ ” 
( n’atthi kimeanam, Ud 80); “who hath overpast becoming or not be¬ 
coming in any way” ( iti-bhavabhavam , all relativity, Ud 20) . 2S 

It will be seen that anonymity is an essential aspect of dktmcahha. All 
initiations (di\sd) and, likewise, Buddhist ordination ( pabbajana ), which 
as in monasticism elsewhere is a kind of initiation, 23 involve at the outset 
a self-denial. 30 This is explicit in Ud 55, where “Just as rivers lose their 

lates “infinite.” But it is almost impossible to doubt that what we have is the familiar 
antithesis of anrtam to satyam. The uncertainty of the reading nevertheless expresses 
a sort of double entendre-, that which is an atta, “not what I really am" ( na me so atta, 
passim) but “devoid of any spiritual-essence” (S iv.54) and “naught-y" ( asat, M 
1.136), is equally from the Brahmanical point of view at the same time “false" and 
“human" as distinguished from what is “true” and “non-human"—i.e., divine—as 
is explicit in VS 1.5 and SB 1.9.3.23 (cf. AB vii.24), where the sacrificer (always in 
the last analysis die sacrificer of himself) when initiated and during the performance 
of the rite “has entered from the untruth ( anrtam ) into the truth {satyam)" and 
when at the close of the operation he formally desecrates himself, but docs not like to 
say plainly the converse of this and so says instead, "Now I am he that I actually 
(empirically) am,” So-and-so. 

28 “It is the Spirit in thee, O man, that knows which is the true and which the 
false (atta te purisa jdndti saccam va yadi va inusd) —the ‘fair self’ (\alyanam . . . 
attanam) ... or the ‘foul’ (pdpam attanam)" (A 1.149), in other words the “great 
self" ( mahatta ) or the "petty” ( app'dtumo) of A 1.249, the "Self that is Lord of self” 
or the “self whose Lord is the Self” of Dh 380. The false view is to see “self in not- 
self” (anattam . . . atta, A 11.42, etc.)—i.e., in the empirical subject or its percepts 
(S 111.130, etc.). It is “well for him that knows himself” ( atta-saniiato , S 1.106; at- 
tan nil, D 111.252), “whose light is the Spirit” (atta-dipu, D 11.100), the "self-lover” 
(attakamo, S 1.75, etc.), “inwardly self-synthesized” ( ajjhatam susamahito, A 11.31, 
etc.), “in whom the Spirit has been fully brought to birth” ( bhavitatta, passim). 
“Go seek your Self” (attanam gavescyyatha, Vin 1.23; attanam ga vest turn, Vis 393). 
“Quicken thy Self” (coday'attanam, Dh 379), for “self is the Lord of self” (Vis 
380). 

20 The initiate is “nameless” in KB vn.2-3 and speaks of none by name; he is not 
himself, but Agni. In SB 111.8.1.2, he is “emptied of self.” Buddhist ordination ( pab¬ 
bajana from the point of view of the ordained, pabbajana from that of the ordainer, 
who during the Buddha’s lifetime is the Buddha himself) has many of the char¬ 
acteristics of, and is sometimes called, an initiation (S 1.226; Commentary [ = SA 
1-346] explains ciraJ.ikhJiita, “long since initiated," by cint-pabbajita “long 
since ordained"; cf. J v.138). In ]ala\amala x.32, a Bodhisattva is diksita. 

The primary senses of pabbajati are to “wander, travel,” and “be in exile,” and so, 
to become a fellow in the “Companionship” ( sangha) of Mendicant Travelers 
(bhi\khu, pabbajana), a true Wayfarer; cf. Coomaraswamy, “The Pilgrim’s Way,” 
and “The Pilgrim’s Way, A Buddhist Recension,” 1938 (article in two parts); the 
Traveler is bound for a world’s End that is within himself. 

30 The ethical aspect of this self-denial is a dispositive means to the end of self- 
naughting and self-realization, not an end in itself. Tapas, whether Brahmanical 


101 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

former name and lineage ( purimdni nama-gottani) when they reach the 
sea, and are accounted just as ‘the great sea,’ so men of the four castes 
(brahmana \hattiyd vessd sudda), when they ‘as-wanderers-are-ordained’ 
(pabbajitva) , discard their former names and lineage, and are reckoned 
only to be ‘Toilers, Sons of the Sakyan.’ ” It is thus that the “exile” ( pab - 
bdja\a) sets to work to “de-form himself of himself,” as Eckhart expresses 
it (daz er sich entbilde sin selbes) or, in other words, to “transform” him¬ 
self. 

The anonymity which we have described above as a doctrinally in¬ 
culcated principle is by no means only a monastic ideal, but has far-reach¬ 
ing repercussions in traditional societies, where our distinctions of sacred 
from profane (distinctions that are, in the last analysis, the signature of 
an internal conflict too rarely resolved) can hardly be found. It reappears, 
for example, in the sphere of art. We have discussed elsewhere “The 
Traditional Conception of Ideal Portraiture” 31 (citing, for example, the 
Pratimdnata\a 111.5, where Bharata, though he exclaims at the artists’ 
skill, is unable to recognize the effigies of his own parents), and we may 
point out here that there is a corresponding anonymity of the artist him¬ 
self, not only in the field of the so-called “folk arts” but equally in a more 
sophisticated environment. Thus, as H. Swarzenski has remarked, “It 
is in the very nature of Mediaeval Art that extremely few names of 
artists have been transmitted to us . . . the entire mania of connecting 
the few names preserved by tradition 32 with well-known masterpieces, 

• • • all this is characteristic of the nineteenth century’s cult of individual¬ 
ism, based upon ideals of the Renaissance.” 33 Dh 74 exclaims, “May it be 
known to religious and profane that ‘This was my work’ . . . that is an 


or Buddhist, is never a "penance,” but in its disciplinary aspect a part of that training 
by means of which the petty self is subjected and assimilated to the Great Self or, 
in a familiar symbolism, by which the steeds are brought under the driver’s control, 
apart from which the man is “at war with himself (S 1.71-72, like BG vi.5-6); 
and in its intrinsic character, a radiance, reflecting his "Who glows ( tapati ) yonder.” 

31 Cf. Coomaraswamy, Why Exhibit Worths of Art ? 1943, ch. 7. 

32 "History,” rather than “tradition” in our stricter sense. 

33 Journal of the Walters Art Gallery , I (1938), 55. Cf. Josef Strzygowski, “the 
artist in Viking times is not to be thought of as an individual, as would be the 
case today. ... It is a creative art” (Early Church Art in Northern Europe , New 
York, 1928, pp. 159-160); and with respect to this distincuon of “individual” from 
“creative” art, “I do nothing of myself” (John 8:28), and, “I take note, and even as 
He dictates within me, I set it forth” (Dante, Purgatono xxtv.52). [“No pro¬ 
nouncement of a prophet is ever his own,” Philo, De specialibus legibus rv.49; cf. 
iv.192.] Better to be an amanuensis of the Spirit than to “think for oneself”! 

102 


AKIMCANNA : SELF-NAUGHTING 

infantile thought.” 3 ’ DhA 1.270 relates the story of thirty-three youths 
who are building a “rest hall” at four crossroads, and it is explicit that 
“The names of the thirty-three comrades did not appear,” but only that 
of Sudhamma, the donor of the roofplate (the keystone of the dome). 35 
One is irresistibly reminded of the “Millennial Law” of the Shakers that 
“No one should write or print his name on any article of manufacture, 
that others may hereafter know the work of his hands.” 36 And all this 
has not only to do with the body of the work and its aesthetic surfaces; 
it has just as much to do with its “weight” ( gravitas) or essence ( atman ). 
The notion of a possible property in ideas is altogether alien to the Philo- 
sophia Perennis, of which we are speaking. It is of ideas and the inventive 
power that we can properly say, if we are thinking in terms of the psycho- 

34 The words of the original could mean either my “work” or my “doing,” kamma 
covering both things made and things done. The same ambiguity, or rather ambiva¬ 
lence, is present in the corresponding text of BG m.27, “One whose self is con¬ 
founded by the concept of an T imagines that ‘I am the doer,' ” and v.8, where the 
Comprehensor does not think of “himself as the doer of anything,” the word for 
“doer,” k art r, meaning equally “maker” or “creator”; cf. JUB 1.5.2, “Thou (God) 
art the doer,” and iv.12.2, “I (God) am the doer” (or “maker”). Like BG, as cited 
above, is Ud 70, ‘Those who give ear to the notion 'I am the doer’ ( ahamkara ), 
or are capuvated by the notion ‘another is the doer’ (param\ara) , do not under¬ 
stand this matter, they have not seen the point.” 

We need hardly remind the reader that this is a metaphysical position and must 
not be confused with the a\iriyavada heresy—namely that of the man in Ud 
45 who is represented as saying, “even while acting, ‘It is not I that am agent’ 
( yo c'api \atva na \aromYti c'aha)." “I,” “this man,” un tel, have no right to evade 
“my” responsibility in this way, by maintaining that it does not matter what I do, 
because it is not really I that am doing it. It is only when the nonentity of this “I” 
[which is not “mine” (Dh 62) but an assumption], has been verified ( sacchi\atva) 
that ‘I,’ in the sense of 1 John 3:9, being “born of God, . . . cannot sin,” or that of 
Gal. 5:18, am “not under the law.” 

35 In early Indian art, the names of the donors are constantly met, those of artists 
almost never. The donor’s name is recorded because he wishes to "acquire merit” 
for what he has done; the artist is not, as such, in this specifically moral sense ac¬ 
quiring merit, but on the one hand earning his wages and on the other working for 
the good of the work to be done, neither of these points of view implying any wish 
for fame. 

36 Edward and Faith Andrews, Shaker Furniture (New Haven, 1937), p. 44. In 
all these connections, however, it is the spirit rather than the letter that matters. 
In the same community, for example, furniture could not be owned “as private prop¬ 
erty, or individual interest” and yet might be marked with a person’s initials “for 
purposes of distinction.” And it was, in just the same way, in order for a Buddhist 
monk to say, “I” or “mine,” when convenient (S 1.14). In the same way an artist’s 
signature need not be an advertisement but can be, like a hallmark, a simple guaran¬ 
tee of quality and acceptance of responsibility. 

103 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


physical ego, that this is not “mine” or—if the self has been naughted, so 
that, to use the Brahmana phrase, we have “come into our own”—that these 
gifts of the Spirit are truly “mine,” since it is the Synteresis, the Divine 
Eros, inwit, “in-genium,” immanent spirit, daimon, and not the natural 
individual that is the ground of the inventive power, and it is precisely 
this inwit, this intellectual light, and not our own “mentality” of which 
it is said that “That art thou.” 

In conclusion, the student must not be misled by such terms as self- 
naughting, nonbeing, or any other of the phrases of the negative theology. 
Nonbeing, for example, in such an expression as Eckhart’s “nonexistence 
of the Godhead,” is that transcendent aspect of the Supreme Identity 
which is not, indeed, being, but that to which all being, even God’s, can 
be reduced, as to its principle; it is that of God's which is not susceptible 
of manifestation, of which, therefore, we cannot speak in terms that are 
applicable only to states of manifestation, yet without which God would 
be only a “pantheon,” a “pantheistic” deity, rather than “all this” and 
“more than this,” “within” and “without.” In the same way, it must be 
realized that of one assimilated to God by self-naughting and therefore 
no longer anyone, we have no longer any human means or speechway 
(; vddapatha) to say what he is, but only to say that he is not such or such. 
It would be even more untrue to say that he is not than that he is; he is 
simply inaccessible to analysis. Even a theoretical grasp of metaphysics is 
impossible until we have learned that there are “things which our in¬ 
tellect cannot behold ... we cannot understand what they are except by 
denying things of them” (Dante, Convito 111.15) and that these very 
things are the greater part of man’s last end. If, for example, the Arhat 
no longer desires, it is not because he is in human language “apathetic,” 
but because all desires are possessed, and pursuit has no longer any mean¬ 
ing; if the Arhat no longer “moves,” it is not as a stone lies still but be¬ 
cause he no longer needs any means of locomotion in order to be any¬ 
where; if he is not curious about empirical truths, whether “this is so” 
or “not so,” it is not because he does not know but because he does not 
know as we know in these terms. For example, he does not think in 
terms of past or future, but only is now. If he is “idle,” from our point 
of view who still have “things to do,” it is because he is “all in act” 

( krtatytyah , \ata\aranlyo), with an activity independent of time. 

But if we cannot know him, it does not follow that he cannot know or 
manifest himself to us. Just as in this life, while in samadhi, he is inac¬ 


104 


AKIMCANNA: SELF-NAUGHTING 

cessible and -for all practical purposes dead, but on emerging from this 
synthesis and “returning to his senses” can conveniently make use of 
such expressions as “I” or “mine” for practical and contingent purposes 
without attainder of his freedom (S 1.14), so after death, by which he is 
not changed, a resurrection is always possible in any guise (he “shall go 
in and out, and find pasture,” John 10:9, with many Indian parallels— 
e.g., TU 111.5, “he goes up and down these worlds, eating what he desires 
and assuming what aspect he will”). This possibility by no means excludes 
that of reappearance in that very (dis-)guise by which he had been known 
in the world as So-and-so. Examples of such resurrection can be cited not 
only in the case of Jesus, but in that of Uccaissravas Kaupayeya (JUB 
m.29-30), in that of the Boddhisattva of the Parosahassa ]dta\a, and in 
that of the former Buddha Prabhutaratna. Such a resurrection, indeed, is 
only one of innumerable “powers” ( iddhi ), such as those of walking on 
the water, flying through the air, or disappearing from sight, which are 
possessed by one who is no longer “in himself” but “in the spirit,” and 
inevitably possessed precisely because they are the powers of the Spirit 
with which he is “one” (1 Cor. 6:17) : 37 which powers (as listed, for exam¬ 
ple, in S 11.212 ff., A 1.255 ff-» and S v.254 IT.) are precisely the “greater 
works” of John 14:12, “the works that I do shall he do also; and greater 
works than these shall he do.” There can, indeed, be no question for those 
who know the “facts” that insofar as the yogin is what the designation 
implies, “joined unto the Lord,” these “powers” are at his command; he 
is only too well aware, however, that to make of these powers an end in 
themselves would be to fail of the real end. 

It will be seen that in speaking of those who have done what was to 
be done, we have been describing those who have become “perfect, even 
as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” There will be many to say that even 
if all this holds good for the all-abandoner, it can have no meaning for 
“me,” and it is true that it cannot have its full meaning for “me” who, 
en etant un tel, am insusceptible of deification and therefore incapable of 

37 This unification is to be understood in the same way that the "eternal reasons” 
are one with the intellect that entertains them and yet distinguishable among them¬ 
selves, so as to be in posse to project their images upon the walls of our cave. Filiation 
or theosis by an ablatio omnis alteritatis et diversitatis can be expressed in terms of 
glorification" as a becoming consciously a ray of the Light of lights: the relation 
of a ray, although of light throughout its course, is that of identity with its source 
at one end and separate recognizability at the other, where its effect is observed as 
color. In no better way than by this adequate symbol, made use of in all traditions, 
can we express or suggest the meaning of Eckhart’s “fused but not confused” or 
Indian bhedabhedha, “distinction without difference.” 


105 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


reaching God. Few or none of “us” are yet qualified to abandon our¬ 
selves. As far as there is a Way, it can be trodden step by step. There is 
an intellectual preparation, which not merely prepares the way to a 
verification {sacchikjriya) but is indispensable to it. As long as we love 
“our” selves and conceive of a “self-denial” only in terms of “altruism,” 
or cling to the idea of a “personal” immortality for our or other selves, 
we are standing still. But a long stride has been taken if at least we have 
learned to accept the idea of the naughting of self as a good, however 
contrary it may be to our “natural” desire, however alien menschen fremde 
(Eckhart). For if the spirit be thus willing, the time will come when the 
“flesh,” whether in this or any other ensemble of possibilities forming a 
“world,” will be no longer weak. The doctrine of self-naughting is 
therefore addressed to all , in measure of their capacity, and by no means 
only to those who have already formally abandoned name and lineage. 
It is not the saint, but the sinner, that is called to repent of his existence. 



Atmayajna-. Self-Sacrifice 


Svasti vah paraya tamasa parastat 

Mundaka Upanisad, n.2.6 1 

When a man vows to Almighty God all that he has, all his 
life, all his knowledge, it is a holocaust. 

St. Gregory, XX Homily on Ezekiel 


Just as Christianity turns upon and in its rites repeats and commemorates 
a Sacrifice, so the liturgical texts of the Rg Veda cannot be considered 
apart from the rites to which they apply, and so are these rites themselves 
a mimesis of what was done by the First Sacrificers who found in the 
Sacrifice their Way from privation to plenty, darkness to light, and death 
to immortality. 

The Vedic Sacrifice is always performed for the Sacrificer’s benefit, both 
here and hereafter. 2 The immediate benefits accruing to the Sacrificer 
are that he may live out the full term of his life (the relative immortality 
of “not dying” prematurely) and may be multiplied in his children and 
in his possessions; the Sacrifice ensuring the perpetual circulation of the 
Stream of Wealth” ( vasor dhara ) 3 the food of the gods reaching them 
in the smoke of the burnt offering, and our food in return descending 
from heaven in the rain and thus through plants and cattle to ourselves, 
so that neither the Sacrificer nor his people shall die of want. On the other 
hand, the ultimate benefit secured to the Sacrificer who thus lives out 
his life on earth and in good form is that of deification and an absolute 

[This essay was first published in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, VI (1042). 
—ed.] 

1 “Welfare to ye in crossing over to the farther shore of darkness!” 

2 “For the winning of both worlds,” TS vi.6.4.1; “that 'life’s best’ that has been 
appointed by the gods to men for this time being and hereafter," Plato, Timaeus 90D. 

TS v.4.8.1, v.7.3.2, 3; SB v.4.1.16, vn.3-i.30, ix.3.2, etc.; MU vi.37, BG m.io ff. 
i he vasor dhara is represented iconographically in the Cakravartin compositions at 
iaggayapeta, cf. James Burgess, Buddhist Stupas of Amaravati and faggayapeta 
(London 1887), pi. lv, fig. 3, etc. 


106 


107 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

immortality. These distinctions of temporal from eternal goods correspond 
to that which is sharply drawn in the Brahmanas between a mere per¬ 
formance or patronage of the rites and a comprehension of them, the 
mere participant securing only the immediate, and the Comprehensor 
(evarnvit, vidvdn, viduh) both ends of the operation ( \arma , vrata). This 
is likewise the well-known distinction of the karma kdnda and karma 
mdrga from the jndna \dnda and mdrga —a division of viae* that is ulti¬ 
mately resolved when the whole of life is sacrificially interpreted and 
lived accordingly. 

To know Indra as he is in himself is the summum bomim (Kaus. Up. 
in.i) cf. AA 11.2.3); and already RV vm.70.3 points out that “none at- 
taincth Him by works or sacrifices” ( na . . . \armand . . . na yajnaih 
[cf. SB x.5.4.16]). If it is not by any mere activity nor by any ritual means, 
it is clear that it can only be by an understanding or verification of what 
is done that he can be found. Here, then, we propose to ask not what 
is enacted outwardly, but what is accomplished inwardly by the under¬ 
standing sacrificer. 

The Brahmanas abound with evidence that the victim is a representa¬ 
tion of the sacrificer himself, or as the texts express it, is the sacrificer him¬ 
self. In accordance with the universal rule that initiation ( di\sa ) is a 
death and a rebirth, it is explicit that “the initiate is the oblation” ( havir 
vai diksitah, TS vi.1.4.5; cf. AB 11.3), “the victim (pasu) substantially 
(nidanena ) the sacrificer himself” (AB ii.n). 5 This was to be expected, 
for it is repeatedly emphasized that “We [the sacrificers here and now] 
must do what was done by the gods [the original sacrificers] in the be¬ 
ginning.” It is, in fact, himself that the god offers up, as may be seen 
in the prayers “O Agni, sacrifice thine own body” ( yajasva tanvam tava 
svam, RV vi.11,2; cf. 1.142.11, avasrja upa tmana), and “sacrifice thyself, 
augmenting thy body” ( svayam yajasva tanvam vrdhdnah, RV x.81.5), 
[“Worship thyself, O God” ( yajasva tanvam , RV x.7.6, vi.11.2)]. To 
sacrifice and to be sacrificed are essentially the same: “For the gods’ sake 
he chose death, for his offspring’s [the same ‘gods’] sake chose not im- 

4 The locus classicus for the viae, affimativa and remotionis, is MU iv.6. These 
are also the sai\sa and a'sai\sa paths, of those who are and are no longer under the 
law. Those who attempt to take the latter before the first has been followed to its 
end are certain to lose their way. 

5 Cf. TS vi. 1.5.4, SB 1.2.3.5 with Eggeling’s note (SBE, Vol. 12, p. 49) and SB 
ur.3.4.21. 

108 


ATM AYAjNA: SELF-SACRIFICE 

mortality: they made Brhaspati the sacrifice, Yama gave up ( ariredt, a 
poured or emptied out) his own dear body” (RV x.13.4). [So in SB 
1.6.3.21, “Me (Soma) shall they offer up to all of you.” Prajapati at his 
own sacrifice “gave himself up to the gods” (SB xi.1.8.2 If.; the sacrificer 
“gives himself up to the gods, even as Prajapati gave himself up to the 
gods ... for the (Sacrifice) becomes an oblation to the gods”; cf. SB 
VI11.6.1.10.] And so it is “by the Sacrifice that the gods offered up the 
Sacrifice” ( yajnena yajnam ayajanta devah, RV x.90.16): we shall see 
presently why, and how correctly, Sayana says in commenting on the 
last passage that “the gods” are “Prajapati’s breath-forms” ( pranarupd ; 
see n. 56). 

The sacrificer’s offering up of himself is ritually enacted in various ways. 
The prastara, for example, which represents the sacrificer, is thrown into 
the Fire, and he only saves himself from an actual immolation by an 
invocation of the Fire itself (SB 1.9.2.17, cf. m.4.3.22) : one who ritually 
approaches either the household or the sacrificial Fire does so reflecting 
that “that Fire knows that he has come to surrender himself to me” 
(paridam me, SB 11.4.1.11, cf. ix.2.1.17, IX.2.3.T5, 17, ix.4.4.3, AB 11.3), and 
if, indeed, “he did not expressly make this renunciation of himself ( atma - 
nah paridam na vadetaj , the Fire would deprive him of it” (SB ix.5.1.53). 7 

Otherwise stated, “the Sacrificer casts himself in the form of seed 8 
(represented by grains of sand 9 ) into the household Fire ( atmanam. . . . 
retobhiitam sincati, SB vn.2.1.6) to ensure his rebirth here on earth, and 

" \J>ic is to "pour out” or “flood,” and with ati-, to “overflow,” the passive “to 
be emptied out over” having often the same value. A superabundance in the source 
and deficiency in the recipient arc implied, hence unatiri\tau — minus and plus, 
pudendum muliebre ct membrum virile (cf. Caland on PB xix.3.9). To be “spent, 
or emptied out, as it were” (riricam iva, PB iv.io.i and passim) follows emission: 
only “as it were,” however, in divinis, because “the Single Season is never emptied 
out ( naliricyate , AV vm.9.26).” In RV x.90.5, the sacrificial Person “is poured out 
over, i.e., overflows the Earth from East to West” ( alyaricyata pascad bhumin 
atho purah ); cf. JUB 1.54.7, alyaricyata, and 1-57-5, ubhayalo vaca atyaricyata. 

' Qui enim voluerit animam suam salvam faccrc, perdet earn, Mark 8:35. 

8 Just as also, in being initiated, the sacrificer had been made to pass through 
all the stages of insemination, embryonic development in the womb, and birth; see 
AB 1.3, where we have sarctasam . . . hrtvd “having made him possessed of seed,” 
the seed from which he will arise as a new man (cf. Eckhart's “He who sees me, sees 
my child"). 

9 The Kusana coins, notably Kaniska’s, on which the king is shown standing left 
with his right hand over a small altar, are probably representations of this ritual 
action, and as much as to say that the king has performed the Rajasuya sacrifice 
and is, if not a god, in any case a ruler by divine sanction, 

109 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

into the sacrificial altar with a view to his rebirth in heaven, 10 employing 
verses containing the verb dpyai, “to grow,” 11 and referring to Soma, for 
“Soma being the Breath” ( pranah ), he thus introduces Breath into the 
effused seed and so quickens it (SB vn.3.1.12, 45, 46); the verses (VS 
X11.112, 113) concluding “growing, O Soma, unto immortality, gain thou 
thy highest glory in the Sky,” i.e., that of the Moon (SB in.4.3.13). 

This introduces us to “Soma,” of whom we shall have much to say. 
For he too, King Soma, is the victim: Agni the eater, Soma the food 
here below, the Sun the eater, the Moon his food and oblation above 
(SB xi.1.6.19, x.6.2.1-4, and passim). We cannot pursue this relationship 
here at full length except to say that “when eater and food ( adya = 
puroddsa, sacrificial cake) unite ( ubhayam samagacchati), it is called the 
eater, not the food” (SB x.6.2.1), i.e., there is an assimilation in both senses 
of the word; that this assimilation is also the marriage effected on the 
night before the new moon’s rising ( amavasya , “cohabitation,” 12 Panini 
m.1.122) when she enters into ( pravisati ) him (JUB 1.33.6); that the 

10 Sexual intercourse, ritually understood, is a kind of Soma sacrifice (BU vi.2.13, 
vi.4.3). The household Fire is identified with the wife, of whom one is born again 
here; the sacrificial Fire is the divine womb into which one pours ( sincati) himself, 
and from which a solar rebirth ensues. The Comprehensor of this doctrine, making 
the Burnt Offering ( agnihotra ), has therefore two selves, two inheritances, human 
and divine; but one who offers, not understanding, has but one self, one inheritance, 
viz. the human (JUB 1.17.18). “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that 
which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). With the sowing of one self as 
seed into the Fire and the quickening of this seed by the Breath, cf. Rom. 6:4 ff.: 
“We arc buried with him [Christ] by baptism unto death . . . planted together . . . 
our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed. For 
he that is ‘dead’ is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ we believe that 
we shall also live with him." 

11 At the full moon offering there are references to the slaying of Vrtra (the 
moon, SB 1.6.4.18), “because Indra smote Vrtra with the full moon offering. In that 
they have references to waxing at the new moon offering, it is because then the 
moon passes away {ksapam . . . gacchati) and verily thus does he cause it to grow 
and wax” (KB 111.5). 

12 Sun and Moon, Breath and Substance, are a progenitive pair (Prasna Up. 14.5, 
cf. Plutarch, Moralia 368D). Their marriage is probably implied in RV Lxxxv.r8, 19 
(cf. A. A. Macdonell and A. B. Keith, Vcdic Index of Names and Subjects, Lon¬ 
don, 1912, s.v. candra), and by the word amavasya itself. For comparative material 
cf. Ernest Sieckc, Die Liebesgeschichte dcs Himmels, Strasbourg, 1892. Love and 
Death are one person. There are inseparable connections between initiation, mar¬ 
riage, and death, and alimentary assimilation; the word “marriage” itself seems to 
contain mcr (Skr. mr to die, cf. maryah, marriageable youth); and very many 
of the words used in our texts with respect to the unification of the many in the 
one imply both death and marriage, e.g., api-i, e\o bhu, sambhu, samgam, samdhd-, 
cf. rekew to be perfected, be married, die. 

no 


AT MAY A IN A: SELF-SACRIFICE 

Sun and Moon are the divine and human worlds, Om and Vac (JUB 
hi. 13, 14), [i-e.. Self and self, le soi and le moi\ ; and again, that the Sun 
is Indra, the Moon Vrtra, whom he swallows on that night before the 
new moon appears (SB 1.6.4.18, 19). It appears, indeed, from a correlation 
of this passage with SB 11.4.4.17-19, that Vrtra is the solar Indra’s bride— 
c f. RV x.85.29, where the Sun’s bride, who enters into him ( vi'sati patim), 
is originally ophidian, acquiring feet only on her marriage (as in the mar¬ 
riage of a mermaid to a human); and that there are more ways than one 
of “killing” a dragon. All this expresses the relationship of the Breath 
to the “elemental self,” Eros to Psyche, the “Spirit” to the “soul,” and is 
paralleled in Meister Eckhart’s “The soul, in hot pursuit of God, becomes 
absorbed in Him . . . just as the sun will swallow up and put out the 
dawn” (Evans ed., I, 292; cf. Dante, Paradiso xxvii.136-138), who is her¬ 
self a “snake” ( apad ) in the beginning (RV 1.152.3, vi.59.6). 13 

Into the details of the Soma Sacrifice (an indispensable part of the 
Agnihotra, oblation to Agni, burnt-offering), we need not enter here, 
except to remind ourselves that the shoots ( amsu ) of the Soma plant, or 
any plant that represents Soma and of which the stems or fruits arc 
used, are “pressed” (suta) —i.e., crushed and ground—and that the 
strained and purified juice is offered in the Fire, and also partaken of by 
the priests and the sacrificer. There is a real analogy of the Soma mill to 
the wine-press, and of Soma juice to the “pure blood of the grape” (Deut. 
32:14), and of the rite to the “drink offering” of the wine in the Fire 
(Lev. 23:13), noster deus consumens (Deut. 4:24), and of the slaying 
of Soma to the killing of the grain when it is threshed and ground. Ac- 

13 Cf. Coomaraswamy, “Two Passages in Dante’s Paradiso ’’ and “The Rape of a 
Nagl" [both in the present volumes— ed.]. 

[From another point of view, the coition ( samagamana) of the Sun (Mitra) and 
Moon (Varuna) on the night of their dwelling together {amavasya) , called a mar¬ 
riage of the full and waning moons, the (full) moon being identified with Varuna 
and the waning moon identified with Mitra (see SB 11.4.4.17-19): precisely because 
the waning moon is assimilated by the Sun, and that which is eaten is called by 
the name of the eater (SB x.6.2.1, with specific reference to the Sun and Moon). 
This is the same thing as the solar Indra’s swallowing up the lunar Vrtra on “the 
night of dwelling together” (cf. KB nt.5); Vrtra is therefore to be seen as Indra’s 
wife—'“Potentiality hath gotten feet (i.e., shed her ophidian nature) and as a wife 
Payh with her Lord” (RV x.85.29). In erotic parlance, to be “slain” and to be in 
gloria are one and the same thing. Now we see just what it is that the “hero” 
failed to do in the story of the Lady of the Land in The Earthly Paradise. And we 
see again that marriage is an assimilation of hostile principles, and that to be as¬ 
similated is to die. It is precisely in all these senses that the soul (which must as 
Eckhart says, “put itself to death”) is to be thought of as the Bride of Christ. Can 
we wonder that Vincent of Beauvais spoke of Christ’s ferocitasl] 

111 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

cording to Plutarch (Mor alia 353), the Egyptians thought of wine as 
“the blood of those who had once battled against the gods, and from 
whom when they had fallen and had been mingled.with the earth, they 
believed vines to have sprung.” 

As to this last, “barley stalks are Soma stems” (SB xn.7.3.13); “barley 
is Varuna” (SB xm.3.8.5) , H as was Soma tied up before his pressing 
(TS vi.i.ii.2, 5); and brandy (surd, fermented liquor prepared from 
rice and barley) is one of the substances that can be made to be Soma 
by rites of transubstantiation (SB xii.7.3.11). The grains contain the sacri¬ 
ficial essence ( medha) that had been in Man (purusa, cf. RV x.90), 
from which it passed to the horse, etc., and finally into the earth, whence 
it is regained by digging (cultivation). The grain is threshed, husked, 
winnowed, and ground. In the kneading and cooking the sacrificial 
cake ( purodasa ) acquires the animal qualities of hair, skin, flesh, bone, 
and marrow, and “the Man whom they had offered up becomes a mock- 
man” (kimpurusa). 1 '" The cake becomes the sacrificial animal, and con¬ 
tains the sacrificial essence of the former animal victims. It can hardly be 
doubted that, like our “gingerbread men,” the cake was made in the shape 
of a man. 10 The whole procedure is expressly equated with the sacrifice 
of a living victim; the threshing and grinding are, like the slaying of Vrtra 

14 For the inauspiciousness of Varuria’s uncultivated barley (“wild oats”) cf. 
KB v.3 (those who cat of it are Varuna’s prisoners); RV vn.18.5-10 (the yavasa 
of the unherded kine), and per contra the Aryan barley that the liberated kine 
enjoy, x.27.8. 

The agricultural symbolism survives in our word “culture.” The rocky ground 
of the soul must be opened up if it is to yield fruit; and this is a matter of spade¬ 
work and sweat. Cf. Philo, Legum allegoriae, 1.48 (on Gen. 2:4, 5), Mind as the 
laborer in the field of sense perception. 

15 Analogous to the mock man (kimpurusa, anaddha-purusa ) made “in the place 
of a man” (Sayana, purusasthane ), and no doubt in human form, to represent the 
chthonic ( purisya) Agni (SB vt.3-r.24, 3.3.4, 4.4.14) and “heaped up for to be the 
sacrificial essence, to be food” (ciyamdna . . . medhayety annayeti, SB vii.5.2.32). 
The untamed soul is indeed a kimpurusa , a mockery of the real Man. 

18 The shape of the sacrificial cake may depend on the context. In SB 111.8.3.1, 
the purodasa is certainly a round cake, representing a man’s head, or rather face, 
and the Sun’s disk; seven other cakes, representing the “seven breaths” (ears, eyes, 
nostrils, and mouth) are arranged about it to complete it. As these “breaths” arc 
also “glories” ( sriyah ), this is made the basis of the hermeneutic etymology of 
“head” ( siras ). Cf. Philo, De opificio mundi, 1.29 (KetpaXy . . . inra xprjrai. Svcriv 
6 rp 9 o.Xp.ois, etc.) and 1.33 ( irporronrov , cv 9 a row alodr/cretav 6 roVos, etc.) cf. 1.51 
(ev irpowtiirta ras aiaAJaeis iSrigovpyet). Philo says that the divine power is in¬ 
fused “by means of the median breath” (Sid tov gerrov iryevgaros ); this median 
breath is precisely the madhyamah pranah and madhye vamana of the Aranyakas 
and Upanisads. 


ATMAYAJXA: SELF-SACRIFICE 

and Soma, sins requiring expiation; the flour that has been “killed” by the 
mortar and pestle and millstones is ritually quickened in order that the 
gods may be given the “living food” 17 they require (SB 1.1.4.6-1.2.3.9 and 
AB 11.8, 9). [“Verily, living he goes to the gods” (TS v.6.6.4); cf. Rom. 
12:1, “present your bodies a living sacrifice.”] The traces of the passion of 
the “Vegetation Spirit” survive in popular 18 agricultural rites all over the 
world, and notably in the words of the song “John Barleycorn,” whose 
awns, like those of the rice in AB 11.9, are his “beard,” the mark of his 
manhood, and who, although they treat him so “barbarously,” springs up 
again. 

The polarity of Soma is like Agni’s. The Soma when bought and tied 
up (in the form of a man, to represent the sacrificer himself, SB 111.3.2.18) 
is of Varuna’s nature, and must be made to be a Friend (Mitra) with 
the words, “Come unto us as the Friend (Mitra) creating firm friend¬ 
ships for pacification” (santyai, TS vi.i.ii, 1.2.7). 19 ^ must never be for¬ 
gotten that “Soma was Vrtra” (SB m.4.3.13, m.9.4.2, iv.4.3.4), and it needs 
no proof here that Vrtra = Ahi, Papman, etc. Accordingly, “Even as 
Ahi from his inveterated skin, so [from the bruised shoots] streams the 
yellow rain, prancing like a horse” (RV 1x.86.44), “even as Makha thou, 
Soma, goest prancing to the filter” (RV ix.20.7). 20 “The Sun, indeed, is 
Indra, and that Moon none but Vrtra, and on the new-moon night he, 

17 On the ‘living food” of the gods, cf. Coomaraswamy, “The Sun-kiss,” 1941, 
p. 55, n. 26. 

18 It may be noted that lokyam in AB 11.9 is not “the people’s” (Keith), but 
"conducive to the sacrificer’s world," i.e., the “world” (lokah) of SB x.5.2.12, 
x.5.4.16; KB vni.3; BU 1.4.15, 1.5.17; MU vi.24, etc., i.e., the world of the Self, 
world of the gods, Brahmaloka, heaven. 

Popular agricultural rites are no more, generally speaking, of popular origin 
than are the narrative forms of folklore. It is a mistake to suppose that scripture 
ever makes use of “old folklore ideas pressed into its service” (Keith, AA, p. 251, 
n. 5). On the contrary, as Professor Mircea Eliade has very justly observed, “La 
memoire collective conserve . . . des symboles archaiques d’essence purement meta- 
physique. ... La memoire populaire conserve surtout les symboles qui se rapportent 
a des ‘theories’ meme si ces theories ne sont plus comprises” (“Les Livres populaires 
dans la litterature roumaine," in Zalmoxis, 11, 1939, p. 78). Cf. Coomaraswamy, 
“Primitive Mentality” [in Vol. 1 of this edition— ed.] . 

19 See Appendix 1. 

20 It is the general rule that the Adityas have been originally Serpents, and have 
vanquished Death by the sloughing of their inveterated skins (PB xxv.14.4). Cf. 
the procession (udasarpam) of the sarparsir mantrakvtah . . . asivisah Arbuda 
in AB vi. 1; it is curious that just as Soma is strangled with a turban (usiusa), 
S B m.2.18, so Arbuda (whose glance is baleful) is blindfolded with a turban in 
AB. On Soma’s “prancing” or “playing” (krida) cf. Coomaraswamy, “Lila,” 1941 
[in this volume— ed.]. 


112 


113 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

Indra, completely destroys him, leaving nothing remaining; when the 
Sun devours ( grasitva ) him, 21 he sucks him dry and spits him out ( tam 
nidhirya nirasyati ); and having been sucked out ( dhitak ), he grows 
again (sa punar dpyayate) ; and whoever is a Comprehensor of this 
[myth or doctrine] in the same way overcomes all Evil ( pdpman ), leav¬ 
ing naught of it remaining” (SB 1.6.4.13, 19, 20; cf. TS n.5.2.4, 5, JUB 
1.33.6 [and vrtram ahim . . . dvayat , RV x. 113.8]). The stone, in fact, 
w'ith which Soma is pressed and slain, is identified with the Sun (Aditya 
Vivasvant, SB 111.9.4, 8), what is enacted here corresponding to what 
is done there. And as in divinis ( adhidevatam) and in the ritual mimesis, 
so “within you” ( adhyatmam ): the powers of the soul (sight, hearing, 
etc.) that are Brahma’s immanent forms are called his “swallow” or 
“sink” {girt) ; and conversely the Comprehensor of this himself “swallows” 
or “sinks” ( girati) the hateful, evil foe ( dvisantam papmanam bhrdtrvyam 
= Vrtra), 22 and "becomes with Self” {bhavaty almand), and like Brahma 
“one whose evil foe is as refuse” ( parasya , a thing to be cast out, spat 
out, rejected or refused, AA n.1.8); the cycle is reversed and completed 
when in sleep (or in samadhi or at death) the Breath {pranah, immanent 
deity, Sun, Brahma) itself “swallows up” ( jagara ) the “four great 
selves,” 23 viz. these same powers of sight, hearing etc. (JUB 111.2). 

So also in terms of the animal sacrifice offered to AgnI?omau, who, 
when they have been united, jointly “overcome the Sacrificer,” who is 
born in debt to Death (SB 111.6.2.16) and is only redeemed by the actual 
victim, “or rather [i.e., more truly], they say: ‘Unto Agnlsomau Indra 

21 As Bfhaspati “cats” (adat) Vala, RV x.68.6. Cf. n. 72. 

22 When Indra casts his bolt “at the evil hateful foe” ( papmane dvisatc bhratrvy- 
aya), it is “Vrtra the Evil One” ( vrtram papmanam) that he smites (SB iv.3.3.5): 
"brotherhood” expressing “enemy” because the Asuras are the "elder brothers” of 
the Devas ( jyestha , “elder,” from V jya, to “oppress.” We have argued elsewhere 
(Spiritual Authority and Temporal Power in the Indian Theory of Government, 
1942, n. 22) that throughout the sacrificial texts the “Enemy” is primarily Vrtra, 
Papman, Mrtyu (Buddhist Mara, Papivant), and that any application of the formu¬ 
lae to other and human enemies is always secondary; that it is only when the 
King has overcome his own Devil that he is empowered to overcome other devilish 
rebels. Keith is clearly right in saying that a magical application of the rites is 
foreign to the Rg Veda , but as certainly wrong in saying that “the sacrifice in the 
Brahmanas is a piece of magic pure and simple” ( Religion and Philosophy of the 
Veda and Upanishads, London, 1925, p. 454). 

23 The breaths or powers of the soul are so many “selves” or “persons” (the 
seeing man, the hearing man, etc.), but act unanimously as the man himself, for 
or against his real Self, the Breath, their Head and Leader (AA 11.3.5,6, ni.2.1; 
JUB iv.7.4; CU vm.12.4ff.; Kaus. Up. 111.2,8, iv.2d), source and last end. 



ATM AY AIN A: SELF-SACRIFICE 

slew Vrtra’” (TS vi.i .n.5; 24 similarly SB 111.3.4.21). Thus “ransoming 
Self by self” (KB xm.3), 25 “by self he enters into Self” (VS xxxn.ii). 
The like holds good in terms of the supplementary sacrifice of the Cake 
{puroddsa ), which contains the sacrificial property ( medha ) that was 
originally in the human victim (SB 1.1.4.8, 9, 111.8.3.1-3). 

Or rather, it is not Soma himself, but only his evil ( pdpman ) that is 
slain (SB m.9.4.17,18). 20 For “Soma is the Regnum” (\satra, SB v.3.5.8); 
and it is precisely that he may be enthroned, and rule indeed, that he is 
“slain” (SB 111.3.2.6). The guilt from which Soma is cleansed is that he op¬ 
pressed Brhaspad, his Purohita, or that he was even capable of thinking of 
such a thing (SB iv. 1.2.4) 1 his passion is an assimilation to and a marital re¬ 
union with the Sacerdotum. The whole pattern underlies and is reflected 
in the rites of royal initiation (rdjasuya = varuna-sava )—“This man is 
your king. Soma the king of us Brahmans” (VS x.18). The prince dies 
that the king may be born of him; there remains no evil, nothing of his 
Varunya nature in the king; it is not himself but his evil that is killed. 
The beating with sticks (SB v.4.4.7) may be compared to the pressing of 
Soma and to the threshing of grain by which it is separated from the 
husks. As Indra slew Vrtra, so the king overcomes his own hateful, evil 
foe (SB v.2.3.7). 

In the beginning, Indra overcomes Vrtra for the sake of Agni and 
Soma, whom he has swallowed; in the Sacrifice Agni and Soma overcome 


24 Not as Keith renders it (against the Commentary) "by Agni and Soma,” but 
for them because they are in Vrtra, from whom they can escape only when Indra 
makes him yawn (TS 11.5.2.3, 4), only when “Indra forced the Engulfer to dis¬ 
gorge, compelled the panting Danava” ( jigartim indro apajaguranah prati svasan- 
tam danavam han, RV v.29.4; cf. vn1.2x.1x, svasantam, and note V svas, sus, in 
“Susna”). Vrtra is the Sacrifice; it is in the same way that Indra and Agni are 
brought forth from the Person, the Sacrifice, in RV x.90.13, and that "as from a 
fire laid with damp fuel ... so from this great being ( bhuta , viz. dtman) were 
the Vedas, worlds and all things breathed forth” ( nisvasitam , BU iv.5.11, MU 
vi.32; cf. JUB 1.47.3, “The All, that is his breathing forth”). Beyond all question 
the “Great Being” from whom all these things are breathed out is the Vrtra from 
whose mouth (when Indra made him yawn) “went forth all gods, all sciences, all 
glory, all food, all weal,” leaving him drained (SB 1.6.3.15.16); just as Sesa ( yad 
asisyala, see Appendix 2) = Atman, so here also Atman, Mahabhuta = Vrtra. 
For just as “Him being One dxey call by many names” (RV 1.164.46, etc.), so 
the one Urmythos ( bhavavrtta , Genesis) has been told and retold in many ways, 
and that not only in India, but all over the world where "in den verschiedenen 
Kulturen findet man die Dialekte der einen Gcistcssprache" (Alfred Jeremias, 
Altorientalische Geisteskultur, Berlin, 1020, foreword). 

25 Cf. Lev. 1:4. 

26 That the body of sin might be destroyed,” Rom. 6:6. 


114 


115 





MAJOR ESSAYS 


ATM AY AINA-. SELF-SACRIFICE 


the sacrificer, or rather what in him is of Vrtra’s nature, and so the circle 
is completed. Thus: Tvastr cast the residue ( yad asisyata ) 2? of the Soma 
upon his sacrificial Fire, saying, “Wax great as Indra’s foe.” Then, 
“whether it was what was falling ( pravartam , lit. ‘on the slope’) 28 or 
what was on the Fire (adhy agneh), that coming into being (sa sambha- 
van, i.e., as Vrtra) overcame ( abhisamabhavat ) Agni and Soma,” and 
then Vrtra “waxed” and, as his name implies, “enveloped ( avrnot )” 
these worlds (TS n.4.12, cf. 11.5.2). Whereas in the Sacrifice “they bring 
forward the Soma (juice), and when he is established in Agni [the 
regnum in the sacerdotum ], they coexisting (sambhavantau) overcome 
(abhisambhavatah) the sacrificer 2 ’ 1 [represented by the victim, TS vi.6.9.2, 
etc.]. Now the initiate (di^sitah) has been hitherto holding himself in 
readiness to serve as the sacrificial essence; but (eva) in that Agni and 
Soma receive a victim, that is his redemption. ... Or, rather [i.e., more 
truly] they say: ‘Indra smote Vrtra for Agni and Soma.’ Inasmuch as the 
sacrificer offers up a victim to Agni and Soma, it verily becomes ‘his 
Vrtra-slayer’ ” ( vartraghna evasya sa, TS vi.i.ii. 6). The Comprehensor 
who offers the full and new moon offering does so with Indra (TS 
11.5.4.1); as Indra repelled Vrtra, the Evil One, by the new moon offering, 
so does the sacrificer (SB vi.2.2.19). “Agni, the Lord of the operation, 
makes him who has slain his Vrtra to operate [sacrifice] for a year; there¬ 
after he may sacrifice at will” (TS n.5.4.5). “At will,” for when the pur¬ 
pose of the Sacrifice has been accomplished, there is nothing more that 

27 Yad asisyata = sesa, see Appendix 2. 

28 Cf. RV ix.17.1, pra nimnena, Sayana pravanena. 

20 “The initiate enters the jaws of Agn!$omau; in that on the fast day he offers 
a victim to them, this is a redemption of himself’ (KB x.3). Similarly, SB 111.3.4.21 
and nt.6.3.19, where "the initiated is the obladon offered to the gods” (havir 
va'esa devanam bhavati ), i.e., their food, and must redeem himself from Soma, 
that is to say from Varuna’s noose (ibid., 20) or curse (m.3.2.2), for Soma was 
Varunya—in other words, from the jaws of Death into which the sacrificer would 
be swallowed up at every stage of the sacrifice if he did not in one way or another 
redeem himself. The Soma sacrifice is a “mysterious rite” (gambhiram adhvaram , 
SB 111.9.4.5 adhvara, lit. “not-a-slaying,” “no doubt referring to the nature of the 
sacrifice, in which the victim is slain but revivified, and the sacrificer would die 
were he not redeemed). “Such, indeed, are the forests and ravines of the sacrifice 
(yajharanyani yajha-kjatrani [? for hjiatram\ ) . . . and if any enter into them 
ignorantly, then hunger and thirst, ill-doers and devils harass them . . but if Com- 
prehensors enter into diem, they pass on from one task to another, as from one 
stream to another, from one refuge to another, and obtain well-being, the world 
of heaven” (SB xu.2.3.12); “dangerous are the ways between heaven and earth” 
(SB 11.3.4.37); “the sacrifice is razor-edged, and swiftly he (who sacrifices) be- 
cometh holy or he perishes” ( punyo va bhavati pra va niiyate, TS 11.5.5.6). 

116 


must be done; such an one is now a \dmdcdrin, he is no longer under 
the law but delivered from the law of obedience to that of liberty, and 
to him it can be safely said, Lo mai piacere omai prende per duce. The 
Buddha no longer makes burnt offering (as he had done in former states 
of being), he does what he likes ( \dmakaro , Sn 350) just because he has 
overcome and dispossessed his Vrtra. 

The word giri (AA 11.1.8), rendered above by “swallow” (n.), lends 
itself to a far-reaching exegesis. Keith translates it by “hiding place” (of 
Brahma), and in a note says very rightly that “it is called giri, because 
prana is swallowed up and hidden by the other senses.” 30 In a note on 
AA 11.2.T, he adds, “The sun and prana are as usual identified, the one 
being the adhidaivatam, the other the adhyatman representation. The 
former attracts the vision, the latter impels the body.” 31 It is, in fact, 
within us that the deity is “hidden” (guhd nihitam, passim ), there that 
the Vedic rsayah sought him by his tracks, there in the heart that the 
“hidden Sun” ( sitryam gulham , RV v.40.6, etc.) is to be “found.” “For 
this in ourself is hidden (guhadhyatmam), these deities (the breaths); 
but manifest in divinis" (dvir adhidaivatam , AA 1.3.3), speech being 
“manifest” as Agni, vision as the Sun, etc. (AA 11.1.5, etc.). These arc the 
“two forms of Brahma, the formed ( murta , i.e., visible) and the unformed 
(amurta ) . . . presented (sat) and immanent ( tya ),” 32 respectively the 
visible Sun disk and the eye, and the unseen Persons in the disk and in 
the eye (BU 11.3). 

30 The “other senses” (sight, hearing, etc.) identified with the giri of Brahma 
are extensions or sendings (prahitah, AA 11.1.5 = kit ah, Upanisads passim, guhasa- 
ya nihitdh in Mund. Up. ii.r.8, prativihitah in Kaus. Up. 111.5, an< l as the ist'ani 
of the R?is are vi hi tarn, RV 1.164.15, and the Maruts hitah in 1.166.3) of 'he central 
Breath (pranah) or Spirit ( atman) from which they originate and to which they 
return. Hence his name of “Grtsamada”: grtsa, “greedy,” because as pranah he 
breathes in, and as madah, “pleasure,” he breathes out these powers (AA 11.2.x). 
That is, God is swallowed up in us when he proceeds, and we in him when he 
recedes. 

31 “The Sun’s body is seen by everyone, its soul by no one. And the same is true 
of the soul of any other body . . . embracing all the senses of the body, but only 
knowable by the mind. . . . Soul (as charioteer) drives the Sun about . . . (and) 
moves us about in all ways,” Plato, Laws 898D-899A; cf. AV x.8.14, “Him all see 
with the eye, not all know with the mind”; and for the “chariot” (bodily vehicle), 
MU n.6, etc. 

32 Tya is not “yonder” (Hume); it is the manifested God, the visible Sun that 
is yonder”; tya , as the following verses show, refers to the transcendent principle 
that is invisibly in the Sun and within you. Cf. tyasya = mama in BU 1.3.24. 

117 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

With giri (V gir, “swallow”) compare grha (V grah, “grasp”); both 
imply enclosures, resorts, a being within something. At the same time, 
giri is “mountain”; and garta (from the same root) both “seat” and 
“grave” (one can be “swallowed up” in either). The semantics is paral¬ 
leled in Ger. Berg, “mountain,” and its cognates Eng. barrow, (i) “ hill ” 
and (2) “burial mound,” burgh, “town,” borough, and finally bury, cf. 
Skr. stupa, (1) “top,” “height,” and (2) burial mound. We are then, 
the “mountain” in which God is “buried,” just as a church or a stupa, 
and the world itself, are His tomb and the “cave” 33 into which He de¬ 
scends for our awakening (MU n.6, pratibodhanaya\ cf. AV xi.4.15, 


33 Cf. Plato's "cave,” and the “cavernous” quality of early traditional architecture, 
floor, space, and roof corresponding to earth, air, and sky equally in a cavern and 
in a chamber; cf. guha, "cave,” "hiding place,” and "hut." Brahma is indeed guhyam 
(KU v.6), the spirit nihito guhayam (KU 11.20), "hidden” in us, as a "cave-dweller." 

That God is “buried” in us underlies the Vcdic metaphor of digging for hidden 
treasure, and that of mining in MU vi.29. The powers of the soul (riys 'pvyijs 
8 vvdp.ti s, which Hermes calls Satyioves, Lib. xvi.14 ff.) are "clementals” ( bhiitah ), 
and their concern is with the "elements” ( bhulani ) or “ores” (dhatavah). Bhutah, 
“beings," are likewise elves, sprites (spirits), fairies, or dwarfs, who may be either 
good or evil; it is not without reason that these beings, the Sidhc for example, arc 
so often thought of as living in “fairy mounds”—or when the “little people” are 
thought of as dwarfs or gnomes, then in mountains. The head and leader of these 
psychic Berglcute, thought of as dwarfs, is himself the immanent Dwarf, Vamadeva, 
Vamana, the "Dwarf enthroned in the midst whom all the gods serve ( madhye 
vamanam dsinam visvc dead updsate, KU v.3); the “gods,” in accordance with 
Sankara’s inevitable explanation, being the powers of the soul ("vision, etc.,” i.e., 
the "breaths”), bringing tribute (balim upaharantah) to their head, the “Other 
One” of verse 5, who is beyond all question the median “Breath,” as is explicit 
in AA H.2.1. Thus the dwarfs and gnomes of the European tradition, digging for 
treasure in the mountains, are the projected images and trace in folklore of our 
own elemental powers. In one of our best known Mdrchcn, the formulation is very 
precise; it is the natural function of the “seven dwarfs” to serve and protect Snow 
White, who is herself Psyche; Snow White is poisoned by the “fruit of the tree,” 
and that this is the tree of good and evil is clear from the fact that the apple is 
parti-poisonous and parti-wholesome (the fruit of the tree is wholesome for those 
who eat to live, but deadly for those who live to eat; cf. SB 11.4.2.1-6). Of them¬ 
selves the dwarfs can protect but cannot heal her; this is done by the solar hero, a 
“Prince Charming” (i.e., in the full sense of the word, “enchanting”: the solar 
Hero is the master of enchantment—blessed are those whom this magician en¬ 
chants), and it is only when the tasted apple falls from her lips that she awakens 
from her deadly sleep. 

In an alternative symbolism, the cave becomes a laboratory and the workers 
alchemists seeking for the philosopher’s stone; or a smithy in which ores are re¬ 
fined and beaten into shape—“as a goldsmith taking a piece of gold draw's out of 
it ( tanutc, \f tan, also to sacrifice and to propagate) another, newer and fairer 
form, so the Spirit . . .” (BU iv.4.4). 



ATM AYA]NA'. SELF-SACRIFICE 

jinvasyatha). What all this leads to, bearing in mind that both the Maruts 
and Soma shoots are equated with the “breaths” (SB ix.3.1.7, AB 111.16, 
and TS vi.4.4.4), is the probability that giri in the Rg Veda, although 
translatable by “mountain,” is really rather “cave” (guha) than “moun¬ 
tain,” and giristha “in the mountain” rather than upon it, and tantamount 
to atmastha (KU v.12, MU 111.2), notably in RV vm.94.12, where the 
Marut host is giristha, and 1x.85.12 and v.43.4 where Soma and Soma 
juice (rasa) are giristha. Just the same is implied in RV v.85.2, where 
Varuna is said to have put “Counsel in hearts, Agni in the waters, the 
Sun in the sky, and Soma in the rock” (adrau, Sayana parvate) . 3i “The 

34 In this context adrau is, like the other words hrtsu, etc., a locative of place 
in: in TS vi.i.n, where the text is cited, Keith renders rightly “in the hill.” In 
the same way Soma is “shut up in the rock” ( asndpinaddham , RV x.68,8); and 
in JUB iv.5.2, asnasu somo raja is rendered rightly by Oertel “in the stones King 
Soma.” In SB 111.4.3.13 and m.9.4.2, we are reminded that “Soma was Vrtra" 
(= Ahi, described in RV 1.32.2 as “having his lair in the mountain," parvate sisi-ay- 
dnam, i.e., in a cave; one recalls that dragons always live in caves, and not on 
mountaintops), and we arc told that “Soma's body ('body' is that in which the 
subject lives) was the mountains and the rocks (tasyaitacchariram yad ginyo yad 
asmanas), thence is born that plant called ‘Usana’ ( tad esosdnd namaufad hir jayate), 
. . . which they collect thence and press" (lam ctad ahrtyabhifunvanti). We nat¬ 
urally think of plants as growing on mountains, and so they do; but things arc 
born from what contained them, plants are in the earth before they spring up. 
Sayaija’s commentary, moreover, makes it clear that by “mountains" are to be 
understood "beings" ( soma-sarira-bhutefu . . . atas tdm eva gtriiv utpannam . ■ . 
abhisunvanti), i.e., the Soma = bhutatrran, as in MU vt.io, cited below; and that 
the plant that is actually collected is “not really Soma" (na sd\$at somam), but 
only ritually made to be Soma. Thus Vrtra (= Vala) is the rock that Indra smites 
and from which Indra (or Brhaspati or both) releases cattle, streams, and all those 
things that had been covered up and hidden away ( vrtam = verbergt, vcrhiillt, 
“hilled") in the beginning. 

Not only then is giri (mountain) to be connected with gir to “swallow” (not 
gir to “sing”), but there can be no doubt that Indian hermeneutists connected 
asman (and doubtless asna) with as, to “eat”; e.g., Mahidhara glosses VS xvn.i 
a'sman by asndtUy, asma; be asman, sarvabhakja\a agne. In AV xvm.4.54 asmdn- 
nanam adhipatyam jiyama, Whitney renders asman by "stone” but Bohtlingk and 
Roth by “Esser.” The hermeneutist might in the same way derive adri from ad, 
to “eat.” I by no means assert that all these hermeneia are etymologically valid; 
what they nevertheless point to is that early man (the troglodyte) thought of a 
mountain as a place to live not on, but in, and as a depository of treasure—a 
manner of thinking that survives in the concept of the “house” which is not that 
of a solid mass but that of a “dome” ( dama ) in which things are housed and 
hidden, and in which, indeed, the owner himself is “swallowed” up when he 
enters us doorway (mukjiam — ostium), disappearing when he “goes home” 
( astarn gacckali) and reappearing when he comes out of doors ( prddur bhavati). 
We are such "houses.” 


118 


119 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


ATM AYAJft A : SELF-SACRIFICE 


Soma oblation ... is incorporeal” (AB 11.14). No wonder that “of him 
the Brahmans understand by ‘Soma’ none ever tastes, none tastes who 
dwells on earth” (RV x.85.3, 4). 

Soma’s death is his procession; he is slain in the same sense that every 
initiand, homo moriturus, dies, to be born again. “A man is unborn 
insofar as he does not sacrifice” (JUB 111.14.8), to sacrifice is to be born 
(KB xv.3), Vrtra’s slaughter is Indra’s birth (as Mahendra, SB 1.6.4.21). 
The Sacrificer, participating in Soma’s passion, is born again of the 
sacrificial Fire in the sense that “except a man be born again . . .” and 
“Except a com of wheat fall into the ground and die . . .” (John 3:3 
and 12:24). 

We observed that Yama “gave up,” or much more literally, “emptied 
out” ( arirecit) his body. In the same way the Person, the One whom 
the gods make manifold, is said to have been poured out completely, or 
have been “all emptied out” (aty aricyala, RV x.90.5, Sayana atiri\tobhiit ); 
it is often stated that Prajapati, desiring to be many, and emanating off¬ 
spring (praja srstvd), was emptied out ( riricanah , SB m.9.1.2, and pas¬ 
sim). In the same way, Vrtra, in whom the streams had been covered 
up (RV vn.100.7), and from whom Indra and Visnu win “that by which 
he is these worlds” (TS 11.4.12), is like a leather bottle “drained” (nispi- 
tah) 3s of his contents (SB 1.6.3.16); just as, conversely, in “sleep” these 
same powers are “drunk in” (apita bhavanti) by the Breath (SB x.5.2.14- 
15). That all This (Universe) was in Vrtra is the very raison d'etre of 
the Sacrifice (SB v.5.5.1). 

All this is reflected in the ritual, as if in a mirror, inversely. Whereas 
Prajapati divides himself, pours out his offspring, makes himself many 
and enters into us in whom he is swallowed up and hidden, so in his turn 
the sacrificer “draws in ( uddhrtya , V hr) these breaths with Om, and 
sacrifices them in the Fire without evil” (MU vi.26). As Prajapati “ema¬ 
nated offspring, and thought himself emptied out” ( riricdno'manyata ), 
so “the sacrificer as it were emanates offspring and is thereupon emptied 
out as it were” ( riricana iva , TS vi.6.5.1): “With his whole mind, his 
whole self ( sarvenevdtmand ), indeed, the initiate ( dlpsitah ) assembles 

3S As the powers of the soul are “drunk in” ( apitah ) in SB x.5.2.12, when they 
“enter into” ( apiyanti, Kau$. Up. 111.3, etc.) the Breath in "sleep,” in samadhi, or 
at death. 

The roots apt (go in to), apt (drink in), dp (possess), dpyai (swell) must be 
very carefully distinguished in all texts having to do with the procession and 
recession of the powers of the sou!; in AV x.8.5, Whitney’s Index is certainly wrong 
in reading dpitvam , Lanmann right in reading apitvam. 


(sambharati) and would collect (sam ca jikirsati, V hr) the Sacrifice; 
his self, as it were, is emptied out” (riricana ivatma bhavati, SB 111.8.1.2, 
KB x.3). That the sacrificer thus “collects” ( samharati , V hr) himself 
is the active equivalent on his part of what is done to him by the Spiritual 
Self itself at death (or in sleep, or in samadhi) “when the breaths ( prdnah , 
ie., indriyani, rrj s >fmxV s Swa/tety) unite with it ( abhisamayanti) and it, 
taking complete possession of those measures of fire 36 (eta tejo-matrah 
samabhyadadano') descends into the heart (hrdayam evanvakramati ) 37 
(and thus) striking down the body, dispelling its ignorance, collects 
itself (atmanam samharati) in order to pass on” (BU iv.4.1, 3); ss the 
equivalent on his part of what is done by the departing Breath (prdnah) 
when it “extracts” ( samvrh , BU vi.1.13) or “impresses” (sam\hid, CU v.1.2, 
i.c., “levies”) the breaths, as a horse might tear out the pegs by which it is 
tethered. 

This takes place in any case when “the dust returns to the dust as it 
was: and the spirit unto God who gave it” (Eccl. 12 :y). 33 The burning 
question for us is, “In whom, when I go forth, shall I be going forth? 
On whose ground shall I be standing?” (Prasna Up. vi.3). 40 Shall I be 
collected or shall I collect myself ? Shall I be passively repossessed or ac¬ 
tively self-possessed? “Whoever departs from this world, not having seen 
his very own world (svam lopam adrstva)* x he unaware of it no more 


38 The breaths or “sense powers” are “fires.” Cf. Coomaraswamy, “Measures of 
Fire” [in this volume— ed.]. 

37 As in SB x.5.2, where the Upo 9 y dpo* of Indra and Indrani is consummated 
in the heart. Indrani (Psyche) is the sum of the indriyani, as SacI is the person 
of Indra's sacih, Sri the person of many sriyah, and in Buddhist contexts Sudham- 
ma = sudhamma , cf. Victoria, properly n. pi. of victor, but as a person f. 

38 In this whole context (BU iv.4.1-7), it is especially important to bear in mind 
that He who is the only seer, only hearer, only thinker, only comprehensor in us 
(BU m.7.23), He who wanders from womb to womb (AV x.8.13), the charioteer 
who sets us agoing (MU 11.6, etc.), is by the same token the only transmigrant; 
as Sankara puts it, “Of a truth, the Lord is the only transmigrant” ( satyam, nesva- 
rad anyah samsdrin , BrSBh 1.1.5). Neither in the Brahmanical nor in the Pali 
Buddhist texts can any doctrine of the “reincarnadon” of an individual be found, 
except in the sense that a man is reborn in his children. 

39 The spirit (a\h) is for heaven, the body (k,hct) for the earth” (K. H. Sethe, 
“Saqqarah Pyramid Texts,” in Margaret A. Murray, Saqqara Mastabas, London, 
7 905, 474) ; to become this a\h, or \a, at death, is to become a God, an Immortal 
(A. Moret, The Nile and Egyptian Civilization, London, 1927, pp. 169, 182, 183). 

Cf. the answers in CU in.14.4, Kau$. Up. 11.14, and Prasna Up. iv.7, and cf. 

v x.8.44. The resurrection is the “birth out of doubt” of SB n.2.4.9, and ac¬ 
cordingly to faith, JUB in. 11.7. 

See n. 18, first paragraph. 


120 


121 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

profits than one might from the Vedas unrecited or a deed undone” (BU 
1.4.15); whereas, “One who knows that contemplative, ageless, youthful 
Self has nothing to fear from death” (AV x.8.44). 

The relationship of the breaths to the Breath, like that of the Maruts 
(identified with the breaths in SB ix.3.1.7, etc.), is that of subjects ( visah , 
svdh) to their king or duke. They are, accordingly, his legitimate “food,” 
he lives on them. They are, in fact, his “divisions.” As he (Bhagavan), 
distributing his powers, divides himself ( atmanam vibhajya, passim ) in 
them, so are they his devoted supporters ( bha\tah ) in that it is theirs to 
“support” him, in every sense of the word, but especially inasmuch as it 
is theirs to render him his “share” ( bhagam ). This feudal relationship is 
repeatedly stated in the words “We are thine and thou art ours” (RV 
vm.92.32, BU iv.4.37, etc.; cf, Plato, Laws 904B). That they “feed” him is 
constantly stated in the phrase, “they bring him tribute” (balim haranti or 
bharanti) * 2 In BU vi.1.3, when the superiority of the Breath has been ac¬ 
knowledged, he, addressing the breaths, says, “In that case, pay me tribute” 
(me balim \uruta)\ each, accordingly, makes acknowledgment that its 
particular function is not its own, but his; in the case of speech (vac), for 
example, “That wherein I am the ‘worthiest’ (f.) (yad vd aham va- 
sisthasmi), that ‘worthiest’ (m.) art thou” (tvam tad vasistho’si ). 13 They, 

12 AV x.7.39, yasmai devah sada balim haranti ; x.8.15, mahadyaksatn (Brahma) 

. . . tasmai balim raslrabhrto bharanti ; xi.4.19, praja ima balim haran ; Kau$. Up. 
n.i, ayacamanaya (without his asking) balim haranti ; JUB tv.23.7, balim hareyuh; 
MU vi.18, pratyahara (= later dcvahara, amrta), as in BG 11.58, yada samharati 
indriyanindriyarthcbhyah. 

In the same way, ritually, bali offerings are made at Yak?a shrines, and politically 
subjects offer tribute. 

If the king “plunders” his subjects’ cattle (pecunial) it is because what seems 
to be theirs is really his; just as God plunders us, all of whose great possessions are 
borrowed from Him (PB xxi.i.i). Therefore “Render unto Caesar the things that 
are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's.” It is for Caesar as for God 
to redistribute the “food.” The reciprocal relations of the powers of the soul to 
the Spirit in the individual microcosm and the circulation of money ( pecunia\ ) 
in the political microcosm correspond to that of the “shower of wealth” ( vasor 
dhara) in the macrocosm. It is not by demanding tribute and service, but by failing 
to expend his revenues for his people’s good, that a king becomes ungodly, a 
Vrtra rather than an Indra. 

43 Vasistha, the primal Brahman of RV vn.33,11, is regularly Agni; who “abides 
in beings as speech (vac) in the speaker” (AV n.1.4) and is in divinis what speech 
is in us, just as the Sun is in divinis what the power of vision is in us (passim). 
Hence she is Vasistha to him as Vasistha. These traditional correspondences under¬ 
lie the connection between the tongues of fire and the speaking with tongues in 
Acts 2:3; see Coomaraswamy, “Lila" [in this volume— ed.]. 


ATM AY AIN A: SELF-SACRIFICE 


in other words, contribute offerings to him that are in reality his attributes 
(dbharana) ; they acknowledge that they are “only the names of his acts” 
(BU 1.4.7, cf- i- 5 - 2I » i - 6 - 3 ! bg iili 5 > etc.). 

In TS n.4.12.5, 6 and SB 1.6.3.17, Vrtra enters into Indra by agreement. 
The fire is, indeed, the consumer of food both for gods and men (JUB 
1v.11.5-7)- Gr rather, that part of the bisected Vrtra which was of Soma’s 
nature becomes the Moon, and that part of him which was Asurya (i.e., 
the ophidian part, the tail) became the belly, “to kindle (indhiya) him” 
and “for his enjoyment (bhogaya)," and is in men the tyrannical appetite 
to which these creatures (imah prajah, sc. prandh, sensitive powers of 
which the individual is a host) pay tribute (balim haranti) whenever they 
are hungry. So men say that “Vrtra is within us”; and the Comprehensor 
of this doctrine, that Vrtra is the consumer, slays man’s enemy, privation 
or hunger. As to this, one recalls on the one hand that the bowels are of 
a serpentine aspect and, as it were, headless; and on the other that for 
Plato, and traditionally, the bowels are the scat of the emotions and ap¬ 
petites. 14 We must, of course, beware of understanding “food” in any 
restricted sense; in all our texts, “food” is whatever can be desired, what¬ 
ever nourishes our existence, whatever feeds the fires of life; there are 
foods for the eye and foods for the mind, and so forth. Vrtra’s fire is the 
source of our voluptas when we seek in works of art nothing but an 
“aesthetic” experience, and of our turpis curiositas when we “thirst for 
knowledge” for its own sake. Of the “two birds,” one eats, the other 
oversees but does not eat (RV 1.164.20, Mund. Up. m.i.i, etc.). 

Hence, in the significant verses of MU vi.34, “As fire deprived of fuel 
(nirindhah) iS is extinguished in its own hearth (svayonav upa'samyate), 
so when its emotions 18 have been killed (vrtti-kjaydt) the will is extin¬ 
guished in its own seat (cittam svayonav upasamyate). It is from the 
love of Truth (satya\amatas) that the mind (manas) is extinguished in 
its own seat; false are the actions and the wantings that haunt (\arma- 
vasanugah) one bemused by the objects of the sensitive powers (indri- 
ydrtha-vimudhasya).’ Transmigration (samsdra) is nothing but our willing 


11 Hence the necessity for a purgation, katharsis, suddha karana, of the mind 
(manas, \ratu , 1/0 Os) in order to eliminate these waste products. 

0 To have extinguished the fire of life by withholding its fuel becomes a com¬ 
mon Buddhist metaphor. In this broader sense, fasting and continence mean far 
more than mere abstention from concrete foods or sexual acts. 

For citta-vrtti I believe that "emotions” is a more accurate rendering than is 
°ods “fluctuations.” Note that vrtti assimilates the asuddham \amasampar\am 
manas (MU vi.34) to the Vrtra of SB 1.6.3.9, so called because he was “on the 
move” (avartayal). 


122 


123 


MAJOR ESSAYS 




ATMAYAJNA : SELF-SACRIFICE 


{cutam eva ); purge it ( sodhayet ) carefully, for ‘As is one’s willing, so 
one comes to be’ {yac cittas tanmayo bhavati). 17 . . . The mind is said 
to be twofold, clean and unclean (suddharn cdsuddham eva ); unclean by 
connection with wanting ( kama ), clean when dissevered from want¬ 
ing. . . . ‘The mind, indeed, is for human beings ( manusyanam ) the 
means alike of bondage and of freedom, of bondage, when attached to 
objects ( visaya ), and of release ( mo\sa) when detached therefrom.’” 
And “Hence, for those who do not perform the Agnihotra (do not make 
burnt-offering), who do not edify the Fire, who do not know and do not 
contemplate, the recollection of Brahma’s empyrean abode is obstructed. 
So the Fire is to be served with offerings, to be edified, lauded, and con¬ 
templated.” 18 

47 Cf. AA 11.1.3, \arma \rtam ayam puruso brahmano, lo\ah , “this Person is what 
he does, he is the Brahma-world”; BU iv.4.5, yatha\ari yatha can tat ha bhavati . . . 
sa yatha\dmo bhavati ... tad abhisampadyatc, “As he (this Person) acts, as he 
conducts himself, so he becomes; what he wants , . . that he attains"; Plato, Laws 
904c, “Such as arc the trend of our desires and the nature of our souls, just sucli 
each of us becomes”; and similarly for Hermes, whose haipo ves are the innate 
tendencies or powers and the nature or “fate” of the soul, “the being of a daimon 
consists in his working” (Sai/j.oi'os- yap obtjla evepytia, Lib. xvi.14); a man cannot 
be and yet be doing nothing, God himself is what he does (Lib. xt.2.i2b, 13a). 
At the same time, the act of being is one of self-knowledge (BU 1.4.10); and so 
to know and to be are the same" (to yap avrii vouv iariy tc Kai tlvai, Hermann 
Diels, Fragments dcr V orso\rati\er, Berlin, 1903, 18B5). 

18 Cf. Mund. Up. 1.2.3. The supposed opposition of the Upanisads to the ob¬ 
servance of rites is largely a figment of the imagination; and similarly in Buddhism, 
where the Buddha says that so long as the Vajjians observe their ancient customs 
“and honor ( sa\\aronti , lit. ‘verify’), esteem (garu\aronti, lit. ‘treat as weighty’), 
respect ( manenti ) and serve (pujenti) the Vajjian (Yakkha-) shrines within or 
without the city, and do not withhold the tribute (balim no parihapenti) formerly 
given and duly rendered, ... so long may they be expected not to decline, but 
to prosper” (D 11.75). 

It is only for those already liberated and already in a “state of grace” that ob¬ 
servances are unnecessary, though they may still remain convenient. What is al¬ 
ways necessary to liberation is to understand and be fully aware of what one is 
doing. 

“All rites are rites dc passage. . . . Rite opens the portals through which none 
may pass but the dead. ... At each of the crises which usher in the successive 
phases of great lives, the vital tide rises and falls, first at its ebb in the mystical 
(sic) state of ritual death, then at the moment of annihilation, suddenly at flood, 
inflowing miraculously to a higher level of life" (Andrew Rugg Gunn, Osiris and 
Odin, London, 1940, pp. 152, 153). For, as Meister Eckhart has said, “He who 
would be what he ought to be must stop being what he is.” 

"He is a truly poor man (sannyasi), he is a harnessed man (yogi) who does what 
ought to be done (karyam karma \aroti), regardless of consequences; not such 
is one who kindles no sacred fire and performs no rites” (BG vi.i). 


In other words, the appetitive soul, the greedy mind, is the Sacrifice; 
we, as we are in ourselves, seeking ends of our own, are the appropriate 
burnt-offering: “The chariot of the gods (i.e., the body born of the Sacri¬ 
fice) is yoked for the world of heaven, but that of man for wherever his 
purpose ( artha ) is fixed; the chariot of the gods is the Fire” (TS V.4.TO.1, 
cf. AA 11.3.8 fm.). We see why it is always assumed that the Sacrifice, 
even of an animal, is a voluntary one; there could be no inner meaning 
of an unwilling victim. 13 We see what is really accomplished by the 
heroic Indra (who, be it remembered, is an immanent deity, as the “Per¬ 
son in the right eye,” and so our real Person) when he “crushes, rends 
and cuts to pieces Vrtra’s seat (yoni) and lair (asaya) and it becomes 
this offering,” and so recovers the Vedas (SB v.5.5.4-6). Now as we have 
already seen, the sacrificer is the oblation ( havis ). He is identified with 
the prastara, which is anointed with the words, “May they (the gods) 
eat, licking the anointed bird" (VS 11.16—“licking,” because Agni is their 
mouth, his flames their tongues), thus “making it a bird and to fly up 
from the world of men to the world of the gods”; the prastara is like 
“any other corpse," except that it is to be touched with the fingers only, 
not with sticks (SB 1.8.3.13-23). The sacrificer’s “death” is at the same 
time his salvation; for the Self is his reward: 51 “They who take part in a 

49 See further above and Appendix 1. 

50 "Seat” or “womb,” as in MU vi.34.1,2, cited above; and “lair" (asaya), hardly 
to be distinguished from “womb” (cf. Pali abbuda — arbuda, as “foetus”), that 
in which the sense powers are guhasaya nihitah, Mund- Up. 11.1.8. It is inasmuch as 
Varuna “lies” (asayc) in them that Varuna, like Agni who makes them his scat, 
knows all the births of the gods, i.e., their births as the powers of the soul and all 
their workings (RV vm.41.7). In RV 1.32.7, that dissevered Vrtra's lair is in many 
places (purutra vrtro asayad vyastah) suggests the Agni of m.55.4 (vibhrtah puru¬ 
tra saye): cf. "I am the Spirit, my station in the lair (asaya) of all beings. . . . Ananta 
am I of snakes” (BG x.20,29). The cavern ( guhd ) from which the streams and all 
other living principles are released can be equated with the "bellies of the moun¬ 
tains” in RV 1.32.1 and 1.54.10. Cf. Isa. 51:1, "Look unto the rock whence ye are 
hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.” 

The “Person in the right eye” is regularly equated with “the Person in the Sun,” 
°f whom it is said that “He who is yonder, yonder Person in the Sun, I myself 
am he” (MU vi.35). It is only to my real Self, this “inward Person” ( antah 
purusa), that the words “That art thou" can be applied; not to “this man” who 
still knows in the worldly sense who he is, by name and family descent. 

_ Cf. JUB m.11.3, yad diifsate . . . dakjinam abhijayate. Any reception of ma¬ 
terial gifts By Brahmans participating in a sacrificial session ( sattra ) is condemned 
m the strongest possible terms (TS mi. 2.10.2). Guerdons (dal<sina) may and ought 
t° be given only when the priests are sacrificing on behalf of others than them¬ 
selves (SB iv.3.4.5), just as a Christian priest saying a Mass on another’s behalf 
Properly receives a fee. 


124 


125 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

sacrificial session ( sattra) go to the world of heavenly light. They kindle 
(vivify) themselves with the initiations and cook (mature) themselves 
with the sacrificial seances. With two they cut off their hair (except the 
topknot), with two their skin, with two their blood, with two their flesh, 
with two their bones, with two their marrow. In the sacrificial session 
the Self is the guerdon ( atma-daksinam ); verily receiving the Self as 
their guerdon, they go to the world of heaven. They cut off the topknot 
at last for success ( rddhyai ), thinking, ‘More quickly may we attain to 
the world of heaven’” (TS vii.4.9, cf. PB iv.9.19-22, SB 1.8.3.16-19). 52 

The mortal, psychophysical self (atman) that the sacrificer immolates, 
whether as above ritually, or when he actually dies and is made an obla¬ 
tion ( ahuti , AB 11.4; SB 11.2.4.8, xn.5.2.13; BU vi.2.14, 15, etc.) in the 
Fire (the sacrificial rite prefiguring his final resurrection from the Fire), 
while it acts as a unity (AA m.2.1, JUB iv.7.4, Kau?. Up. 111.2, 8) is 
not one member (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12 ff.) but a compound (samhata, samdeha, 
sambhuti, crvyKpi/ia, etc.), or “host of elemental beings” (bhutagana), 
called elemental self” ( bhutatman) and, as such, distinguished (as in 
Plato) from its immortal Self” (amrtosyatma, \fivxyj 'pvy'-fjs), the im¬ 
passible and un-affected Inner Man (antahpurusah = prajhdtman, solar 
Self; cf. MU 111.2, 3). In view of what has already been said of the Soma 
sacrifice, a symbolic self-immolation, it will not now surprise us to find 
that this passible “elemental self” is identified with Soma (soma samjho’- 
yam bhutdtmd, MU vi.io). Not, of course, the Soma that “was Vrtra,” 
or Varunya, but the Soma that still is Vrtra, or Varunya; not Soma the 
Friend (mitrd) but Soma the Titan (asura, SB xii.6.1.10, n); not Soma 
the immortal, but the Soma that is to be pressed and slain and from 
whom the immortal extract is to be separated out. In MU vi.io we are, 
accordingly, further reminded that Soma is the food and Fire the eater 
[it is with this Fire and not with the Soma that the Sacrificer identifies 
his Self], and that the Comprehensor of the equation Soma = bhutatman 
is a truly poor man (sannydsi), a harnessed man (yogi), and a “self- 
sacrificer” (atmayaji), i.e., “one who himself officiates as his own sacrifi¬ 
cial priest, as distinguished from the devayaji, for whom the sacrifice is 

52 All this corresponds to the removal of the annamaya and other "sheaths” 
(k.osa) of Brahma, to the “shaking off of bodies” (JUB 1.15.5, >11.30.2, etc.), es¬ 
sential because “no one becomes immortal with the body” (SB x.4.3.9). It is sym¬ 
bolized also in the Vaisnava vastra-harana. Love reminds us that “across my 
threshold naked all must pass.” This is Philo’s “noble nudity” (apian) yv/uwis, 
Legum allegoriae 1.77). 


ATM AY AINA: SELF-SACRIFICE 

performed by another, notably by the god (Agni, devayaj, SB passim)™ 
as missal priest: the Sacrificed immolation of himself, the “elemental 
self,” is his “self-sacrifice” (atmayajha). 

In the same way we shall now be able to understand how in MU 
vi.35 the powers of the soul are equated with Soma shoots: here “of the 
Fire that is hidden within the Sky it is but a little measure that is the 
Water of Life (amrtam) in the midst of the Sun, of which the growing 
shoots (dpyay-anl{urdhy* are Soma or the Breaths (soma prana va) 
The equation of the breaths with Soma shoots is even more explicit in 
TS vi.4.4.4, prana va amsavah, “the breaths are Soma shoots.” Now we 
have seen that “Soma was Vrtra,” and that he emerges from these shoots 
“as the Serpent from his skin”; the powers of the soul, the collective soul 
itself are, then, Vrtra’s “seat and lair” from which the offering (isti) 
is extracted (SB v.5.5.1, 6, cited above). The real Soma sacrifice is the 
bruising of these shoots, the breaths, the elemental self or soul: “One 
withdraws (uddhrtya) these breaths (from their objects)” and sacrifices 
them in the Fire” (pranan . . . agnau juhoti, MU vi.26); “the (imma¬ 
nent) deities 56 are the breaths, mind-born and mind-yoked, in them one 

53 Cf. RV 1.142.11, devan yak.fi, vanaspate. 

"‘This is my own reading of the text, avoiding all emendation. 

55 As in MU vi. 19, BG 11.58, iv.27, etc. and in all contemplative practice leading 
to synthesis (samadhi). Cf. Psalms 51:16, 17, “Thou delightest not in burnt offering. 
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.” 

60 “All these deities are in me” (JUB 1.14.2); “they make their home in me” 
(SB 11.3.2.3); they are neither in heaven nor on earth, but in breathing creatures, 
i.e., living beings (praninah, VS xvn.14). Strictly speaking, Prajapati’s children (his 
“breath forms” as Sayana calls them, cf. BU 1.5.21 where it is after him Prajapati, 
the Breath, and as his forms, rupani, that the powers of the soul are called "breaths”) 
are gods and titans, competing in these worlds for possession of them; the sense 
organs of speech, scent, hearing, vision, and thought sang for the gods all fruition 
(bhogan) and for themselves whatever was beautiful (kalyanam), until the titans 
infected them with evil—that is, whatever is done by any of them informally 
(apratirupam ). Only the Breath remained immune to this infection, and he trans¬ 
lates (atyavahat) the senses, striking off their evil, their mortality, so that each 
becomes its macrocosmic equivalent, speech becoming Agni, smell Vayu, vision the 
Sun, hearing the Quarters of heaven, mind the Moon. The Breath then shares out 
the nourishment that it sings for itself (the Breath is the organ-blower, the breaths 
the Maruts that move in the bodily organ-"pipes, nddyab," into which they have 
been “put, hitah ”), playing the part of host to the breaths that take up their places 
round about him as a regiment of the "King’s Own ( svah )” that at the same time 
forms his bodyguard and is fed by him. The Breath is identified with (Agni-) 
Brhaspati-Brahmanaspati, i.e., the Spiritual Power in which the Temporal Power 
inheres (BU 1.3, cf. JUB 11.8). It is in this sense that the gods were originally 


126 


127 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


ATMAYAJNA : SELF-SACRIFICE 


sacrifices metaphysically” ( prana vai deva, manojata manoyujas, tesu pa- 
ro\sam juhoti, TS vi.1.4.5, cf. JUB 1.40.3). 57 

“Mind-born and mind-yoked”: in the ever-recurrent simile of the 
chariot, 58 i.e., the bodily vehicle in which the solar spiritual Self takes up 
its stand as a passenger for so long as the chariot lasts, the sense organs 
are the steeds and the reins are held by the directing mind ( manas , vovs) 
on behalf of the passenger; “Savitr yokes the gods ( dev ah — prandh) 
with mind, he impels them (yuhtvdya manasd devan . . . savita prasuvati 
tan, TS iv.i.i).” When the horses willingly obey the rein, the chariot 
conducts the passenger to his proper destination; but if they pursue their 
own ends, the natural objects of the senses, and the mind yields to them, 
the journey ends in disaster (it must be remembered that the mind is 
“twofold,” bound by the senses or independent of them, MU iv.34, cf. 
Philo, Legnm allegoriae 1.93). The man whose senses are under control, 
or “yoked” (yuktdh, yujah), i.e., the yogi, can say accordingly “I yoke 
myself, like an understanding horse ( svayam ayuji hayo na vidvan, RV 
v.46.1)”; which is only another way of referring to those who “offer up 
all the workings of the senses and the breaths in the Fire of the yoga of 
self-control, kindled by gnosis” (BG iv.27). 

It is now also clear why we are told in RV x.85.3-4 that though “they 
fancy when they crush the plant that they are drinking very Soma; 


mortal (TS vn.4.2.1:, SB 11.2.2.8, etc.), and only by Agni's counsels, or by the sacri¬ 
fice, or by making the brahma their own, attained their present dignity ( arahatta ), 
immortality (amrlatva), and victory (jiti), RV vi.7.4, x.63.4, SB m.4.3.15, xi.2.3.6, 
etc. 

57 That is to say that when the sacrificer, in whom these powers are immanent, 
ceasing to use them for improper (apratiriipa) ends, i.e., the pursuit of pleasure, 
returns himself with the immanent deities to their source, then "he” becomes an 
immortal. It is not his personality but his Person that then survives after death, when 
“we who, in our junction with our bodies are mixtures and have qualities, shall 
not exist, but shall be brought into the rebirth, by which, becoming joined to 
incorporeal things, [we] shall become unmixed and without qualities” (Philo, De 
cherubim, 113 ff.). The TS passage sums up in a few words the whole thesis of “self- 
sacrifice," i.e., the sacrifice of oneself by oneself to one’s Self, “this seifs immortal 
Self” (MU in.2). Whoever will not make this sacrifice is “damned”: “Whosoever 
hath not [possessed his Self], from him shall be taken away even that [self] he 
hath,” Matt. 13:12. 

58 The symbol of the chariot is employed by Plato and the Piatonists in exactly 
the same way. To exhibit the collation in full would require a separate article, 
but we may point out that the notion of a yoking of the senses is conspicuous in 
Hermes, Asclepius 1.5 ff. 


yet of him the Brahmans understand by ‘Soma’ none ever tastes, none 
tastes who dwells on earth.” 59 The extracted juice is not immediately, not 
really Soma (Sayana, na ca sa sd\sdt somah). The drinking of Soma, 
in other words, is a rite of transubstantiation; “it is metaphysically 
(parokjam) that the Ksatriya obtains the Soma drinking, it is not im¬ 
mediately ( pratyaksam — stikjat) partaken of by him . . . (but only) 
through the High Priest ( purodhas ), through the initiation (di/(sa), 
and the ancestral invocation” ( pravara, implying “apostolic succession”), 
AB vn.31; cf. SB m.6.2.9, where the Soma pressing stones are Initiation 
(dikja) and Ardor (tapas) ; “they collect ( ahrtya) the plant us and and 
press it, and by means of the initiation ( dikja ) and the seances ( upasads, 
sacrificial sittings-in), by the Tanunaptra (-covenant) and the ‘making to 
grow’ ( apyayana ), they make it to be ‘Soma’” (SB m.4.3.13); “by Faith, 
the daughter of Surya, he makes it (surd, brandy, properly the drink of 
the Asuras and loathsome to Brahmans) to be Soma juice” (SB xn.7.3.11); 
that which was taken away from Namuci (Vrtra) by the Asvins is now 
drunk as Soma (SB xu.8.1.3-5), the “Supreme Offering” (VS xix.2, 
SB xn.8j.12). 

Such is the significance of what is called the “Subjective Interior Burnt- 
offering” (ddhyatmikjim antaram agnihotrah), of which SA x.i ff. af¬ 
firms that “if one sacrifices, knowing not this Agnihotra, it is for him as 
though he pushed aside the coals and made oblation in the ashes.” 

The assumption of the Fire is described in SB 11.2.2.8-20, of which the 
following is a summary. The gods (devah') and titans (asurah) were 
both the children of Prajapati, both alike devoid-of-any-spiritual-Self 
(anatmanah) and consequently mortal: only Agni was immortal. Both 
parties set up their sacrificial Fires. The titans performed their rite ex¬ 
ternally (profanely); but “the gods then set up that Fire in their inward 
self (enam . . . antaratman adadhata), and having done so became im¬ 
mortal and invincible and overcame their mortal and vincible foes.” In 
the same way now the sacrificer sets up the sacrificial Fire within him¬ 
self. As to this Fire thus kindled within him he thinks, “herein will I 

9 An explicit warning that the Elixir of Life is not a physical medicine of any 
k >s no more than the fons vitae to be found outside ourselves. Cf. AB 11.14, 

• Soma oblation is one of ambrosia. These oblations are incorporeal (i.e., 

invisible and intangible); it is with those oblations that are incorporeal that the 
sacrificer wins immortality.” 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

sacrifice, here do the good work.” Nothing can come between him and 
this Fire; 60 “Surely, as long as I live, that Fire that has been set up in 
my inward self does not die down in me.” He feeds that flame who 
utters right ( satyam ), and more and more becomes his own fiery force 
( tejas ); he quenches it who utters wrong ( anrtam ), 61 and less and less 
becomes his fiery force. Its service is just “right.” 

Accordingly, “being about to edify Agni (build up the Fire-altar) the 
sacrificer apprehends him in himself ( atmann agnim grhnite); for it is 
from himself that he brings him to birth ( dtmano . . . adhijayate, SB 
vii.4.1.1).” The true Agnihotra is, in fact, not a rite to be merely performed 
at fixed seasons, but within you daily, 02 after the primordial pattern of the 
thirty-six thousand Arka-Fires that were of mental substance and mentally 
edified by the first sacrificers: “mentally ( manasa ) 63 were they edified, 
mentally were the cups of Soma drawn, mentally they chanted... . These 

Cf. AB vir.12, where if anything passes between the sacrificer and his ritual 
fires he may ignore it, because his fires “have been set up within himself ( altnany 
asya hita bhavanti)." 

01 For satyam (flam) and anrtam our words “truth” and “untruth” have a too 
definitely ethical and empirical significance to be entirely adequate; just as our 
word “sin” is too ethical to represent what is implied by Sanskrit and Greek terms 
meaning "incorrect,” or more literally, "missing the mark.” Properly speaking, 
“sin,” as defined by St. Thomas Aquinas, is “any departure from the order to the 
end,” and not merely moral error. Satyam and anrtam are nearer to “correct” ( in¬ 
teger)\ and “incorrect.” In the same way, virtue ( kausalam , Pali \usalam), like 
wisdom (cro^i'a), is radically “skill”; and the beautiful {kalyana, xaAos) not what 
we like, but whatever is appropriate or “in good form (pratirupa ),” as opposed 
to what is ugly, improper, or more literally “informal (apratirupa )’’; nor are these 
merely “aesthetic” values, for \alyuna and \ausala, \usala, are both opposed to papa, 
“evil” or “foul,” as in Scholastic philosophy pulcher is opposed to turpis, whether as 
“ugly" or as “disgraceful." Only what is correct is effective; and hence the great 
emphasis laid on the correct, i.e., beautiful, performance of the sacrificial rites, 
and the necessity for expiation in the case of any error (Brahmanas, passim). When¬ 
ever the conduct of life is sacramentally envisaged, this perfectionism is carried 
over into every possible field of doing or making: in the single concept of skill, 
“prudence” and “art” coincide. “Skilful performance is Yoga (yogah karmasu 
\ausalam , BG 11.50).” 

82 Similarly AA 11.3.8 (the 36,000 days of a man’s life), and KU iv.8 (dive diva 
idyo ■ ■ . havismadbhir manusyebhir agnih, “The Fire should be served every day 
with human oblations”). In this sense human sacrifice is essential to salvation. 

83 Manasa, “with the mind as instrument” or “mentally,” occurs some 80 or more 
times in RV, frequently in connection with the Sacrifice—e.g., 1.172.2, stomo . - • 
hrda tastau manasa ; 11.40.3, ratham . . . manasa yujyamiinam (cf. v.46.1, svayam 
ayuji ); vn.64.4, gartam manasa ta\sat ; vn.67.1, havismata manasa yajniyena ; simi¬ 
larly vr.16.4, bavir hrda tastam. We have no reason to suppose that the Sacrifice 
had ever been a merely mechanical operation. 

130 


ATMAYAJNA : SELF-SACRIFICE 

Fires, indeed, are knowledge-built ( vidyacita eva) ; and for the Compre- 
hensor thereof all beings ( sarvani bhutani, all the powers of the soul) 
build up these Fires, even while he is asleep.” And so “by knowledge 
(yidyaya ) they ascend to where desires have migrated (paragatdh ); it is 
not by guerdons (dakjinabhih) nor by ignorant ardour ( avidvamsah 
tapasvinah) ... but only to Comprehensors that that world belongs” (SB 
x.5.4.16). This last passage states explicitly what is clearly implied by RV 
vm.70.3, cited above. 

A distinction is thus clearly drawn between mere performance and the 
understanding of what is done, performance as such and performance 
as the support of contemplation; and between an objective performance 
on stated occasions and a subjective and incessant performance. The first 
of these distinctions is made again in SB x.4.2.31, “Whosoever as a Com- 
prehensor performs this sacred work, or even one who is a Compre- 
hensor (but does not actually perform the rites), puts together again this 
(divided) Prajapati, whole and complete” (and therewith at the same 
time reintegrates himself); and again in SB xm.i.3.22, where the distinc¬ 
tion is drawn between those who are merely “seated at a sacrificial ses¬ 
sion” ( sattrasadah ) and those who are “seated in reality” ( satisadah ), 
only those who thus sacrifice in truth being “seated amongst the very 
gods” (satisu devatasu sidantah). 

The satisad is the same as the Atmayaji referred to above, namely one 
who is his own priest. The atmayaji is “one who knows, ‘this (new) 
body of mine hath been integrated (samskriyata) , hath been superim¬ 
posed (upadhiyate) by that body (of the Sacrifice)’: and even as Ahi 
from his skin, so does he free himself from this mortal body, from the 
evil (papmanas, i.e., from Vrtra), and as an offering (dhuti)?' as one 
composed of the Three Vedas, so he passes on to the world of heavenly 
light. But the DevayajI (for whom another officiates), who merely knows 
that ‘I am sacrificing this (victim) to the gods, I am serving the gods,’ 
ls hke an inferior who brings tribute to (balim haret) a superior ... he 
does not win so much of a world” (SB xi.2.6.13, 14). 05 The distinction 

. * ^ av 'ng come into being from Agni, the womb of the gods (cf. JB 1.17) from 
oblation, with a body of gold (— light, immortality) he proceeds to the world 
° x(s eaven, y *ight” (AB n.14); and similarly in SB xn.2.2.5-6, and many like con- 

• JUB 1.14.1, “He should not be one whose gods are far away. Verily, it is 

soar as he approaches the gods with himself ( atmana devan upaste, i.e., is an 
^mayafi) that become gods for him”; and BU 1.4.10, “So whoever approaches a 
'- lt > as being other, thinking ‘He is one, and I another,’ does not comprehend; he 

131 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


ATMAYAJNA: SELF-SACRIFICE 


is of active and passive viae, of “salvation” from “liberation.” The Atmav- 
ajl is one who sacrifices in himself” ( dtrnann eva yajati, MU vn.9). 
“Seeing the Self 66 impartially in all beings and all beings in the Self, the 
AtmayajI obtains autonomy’ ( svarajyam, Manavadharmasdstra xn.91; 
cf. CU viii. 1.1-6, BG vi.29). 

The foregoing interpretation of the Sacrifice as an exhaustive series of 
symbolic acts to be treated as supports of contemplation ( dhiydlamba) 
reflects a traditional assumption that every practice (?rpa^?) implies 
and involves a corresponding theory (deaipia). The observation of SB 
ix.5.1.42 that the building of the Fire (-altar) includes “all kinds of 
works" ( vi'svd {armani) assimilates the sacrificer to the archetypal sacri- 
ficer, Indra, who is preeminently the “All-worker” (visva{armd). It is 
just because the Sacrifice, if it is to be correctly performed (and this is 
quite indispensable), demands the skilled cooperation of all kinds of 
artists, that it necessarily determines the form of the whole social struc¬ 
ture. And this means that in a completely traditional society there is no 
real distinction of sacred from profane operations; rather, as the late A. M. 
Hocart expressed it, “chaque occupation est un sacerdoce”; 67 and it is a 
consequence that in such societies, “the needs of the body and the soul are 
satisfied together.” 68 In view of this, it will not surprise us to find what 
in any investigation of the “caste system” must never be overlooked, name¬ 
ly, that the primary application and reference of the verb {r (creo , 
Kpaivcd), to do or make, and the noun {artna, action or making, is to 
sacrificial operation (cf. Grassmann, s.vv., insbesondere, opfern, Opfer- 
wcrky, and Lat. operan — sacra facers'). It will be as true of every agent 
as it is for the king that whatever he does of himself, unsupported by 
any spiritual reason, will be to all intents and purposes “a thing not 
done” (akrtam). What might otherwise seem to our secular eyes a revolu¬ 
tionary principle, viz. that the true Sacrifice (“making sacred,” iepoiroia) 
is to be performed daily and hourly in each and every one of our func- 


is a mere victim for them.” Similarly Meister Eckhart, “Some there are so simple 
as to think of God as if He dwelt there, and of themselves as being here. It is not 
so, God and I are one” (Pfeiffer ed., p. 206). 

68 The solar Self of RV 1.115.1 and AV x.8.44. 

87 Les Castes, Paris, 1938, p. 27. 

03 R. R. Schmidt, Dawn of the Human Mind, London, 1936, p. 167. That manu¬ 
facture should serve the needs of body and soul at one and the same time was 
also Plato’s demand; and wherever there is not this intention, man is attempting 
to live an atrophied existence, by “bread alone.” 

132 



tionings— tesu parokjam juhoti, TS vi.1.4.5—is really implicit in the con¬ 
cept of action ({arma) itself; it is, in fact, only inaction , what is not done, 
that can be thought of as unholy, and this is explicit in the sinister mean¬ 
ing of the word {rtya , “potentiality” personified; the perfect man is “one 
who has done what there is to do” ({rta{rytah) , the Arhat {atam {a- 
raniyam. The sacrificial interpretation of the whole of life itself, the 
{arma mdrga doctrine of the Bhagavad Gita, is implicit in texts already 
cited, and explicit in many others, e.g., JUB iv.2, where the man is the 
Sacrifice, and his breaths, the powers of the soul, acting as Vasus, Rudras, 
and Adityas, carry out the morning, midday, and evening pressings (i.e., 
the Soma sacrifice) during his first 24, second 44, and last 48 years of a 
life of 116 years. Similarly CU 111.16, followed by 111.17, where privation 
is equated with initiation, enjoyments with the sacrificial sessions and 
chandngs, the virtues with the guerdons, generation with regeneration, 
and death with the last ritual ablution. In the same way in the “thousand 
years” operation of the all-emanating (visvasrjah) deities, “Death is the 
slayer” (samitr, PB xxv.18.4), who dispatches the resurrected victim to 
the gods. 69 

In Kaus. Up. 11.5, in Hume’s version appropriately entitled “A per¬ 
son’s entire life symbolically a Soma-sacrifice,” it is affirmed with respect 
to the Interior Burnt-offering (antaram agnihotra ) that our very breath¬ 
ings in and out ( prandpanau : the two primary breaths or lives, which 
include and represent all those of sight, hearing, thought, and speech, 
etc., AA 11.3.3) “are two endless ambrosial oblations (nante amrtdhuti) 
that whether waking or sleeping one offers up (juhoti) continuously and 
without a break; and whatever other oblations there are, have an end 
(antavatyas tah ), for they amount to no more than activity as such ({arm- 
mamayo hi bhavanti). And verily the Comprehensors thereof in former 
time abstained from making actual burnt offerings (agnihotram na ju- 
huvam ca{ruh)" It is from the same point of view that the Buddha, 
who found and followed the ancient Way of the former Fully Awakened 
(S 11.106, etc.) and expressly denies that he taught a doctrine of his own 
invention (M 1.77), pronounces: “I pile no wood for altar fires; I kindle 
a flame within me (ajjhatam = adhyatmi{am ), the heart the hearth, 
the flame thereon the dominated self” (atta sudanta , S 1.169; he., saccena 
danto, S 1.168 = satyena dantah). We have seen already that one who 
has slain his Vrtra, i.e., dominated self, and is thus a true autocrat (sva- 

69 On the “happy dispatch,” cf. Appendix 1. 

133 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


ATMAYAJNA: SELF-SACRIFICE 


raj), is liberated from the law according to which the Sacrifice is factu¬ 
ally performed (TS 11.5.4.5); and in the same way in AA 111.2.6, the 
Kavaseyas who (as in Kaus. Up. 11.5, cf. BG iv.29) sacrifice the incoming 
breath when they speak and the outgoing breath when they remain si¬ 
lent, ask: “To what end should we recite the Veda (cf. BG 11.46), to 
what end should we sacrifice externally) ?”' n 

In the sacrificial interpretation of life, acts of all kinds are reduced 
to their paradigms and archetypes, and so referred to Him from whom all 
action stems; when the “notion that I am the doer” ( ahamkara , \arto'ham 
asmiti) has been overcome, and acts are no longer “ours,” when we are 
no longer any one ( vivo autem, jam non ego sed Christus in me, Gal. 
2:20), then we are no longer “under the law,” and what is done can no 
more affect our essence than it can His whose organs we are. It is in this 
sense only, and not by vainly trying to do nothing, that the causal chain 
of fate {karma with its phaldni) can be “broken”; not by any miraculous 
interference with the operation of mediate causes, but because we are 
no longer part and parcel of them. The reference of all activities to their 
archetypes (essentially a reductio artium ad theologiam ) is what we ought 
to mean when we speak of “rationalizing” our conduct; if we cannot give 
a true account (ratio, \6yos) of ourselves and our doings it will mean 
that our actions have been “as you like it {vrthd)," reckless {asamkhy- 
anam) and informal {apratirupam) rather than to the point {sadhu) 
and in good form {pratirupam) . 71 

For one who has completely realized the sacrificial implications of every 
action, one who is leading not a life of his own in this world but a transub¬ 
stantiated life, there are no compulsory forms. This must not be understood 
to mean that he must adopt the role of a nonconformist, a must that 
would be altogether incompatible with the concept of freedom. If, in the 
last analysis, the Sacrifice is a mental operation even for the Rg Veda, 
where the ritual acts are mentally performed {manasa, passim) but it 
is not to be inferred that there is no manual procedure, it is also true 
that an emphasis on the ultimate inwardness of the Burnt-offering by no 

70 It is, no doubt, in their character as nonsacrificers that the Kavaseyas of RV 
vii. 18.2 are enemies of Indra, whose very raison dc devenir is sacrificial operation. 
They have, by their repudiation of the divine activity and imitation of the divine 
idleness, become again Asuras, and are no longer the loyal subjects of the king of 
this world. 

71 Cf. notes 56 and 61. Right offering is whatever is neither excessive nor de¬ 
fective in the Sacrifice (§B xi.2.3.9). 

134 


means necessarily involves a disparagement of the physical acts that are 
the supports of contemplation. The priority of the contemplative does not 
destroy the real validity of the active life, just as in art the primacy of the 
free and imaginative actus primus does not remove the utility of the manu¬ 
al actus secundus. In the \arma marga, karma retains, as we have seen, its 
sacrificial implications. A mere and ignorant performance of the rites 
had always been regarded as insufficient ( na \armana . . . na yajnaih, 
RV vni.70.3). If the k arma of the Bhagavad Gita is essentially {svabha- 
vaniyatam, xvm.47 = Kara (fiver lv) a work to which one is called by 
one’s own nature or nativity, this had been equally true in the Vedic pe¬ 
riod when the sacrificial operation involved “all kinds of works” and 
the acts of the carpenter, doctor, fletcher, and priest had all been regarded 
as ritual “operations (: vratdni ).” And so as BG iv.15, reminding us of 
several contexts cited above, affirms and enjoins, “Understanding this, 
the sacrificial work was performed even by the ancients desirous of 
liberation {krtam karma purvair api mumuk?ubhih) ; so do thou do 
work {kuru karma) even as by the ancients of old it was done.” It is 
true that, as the Vedanta consistently maintains, man’s last end is unat¬ 
tainable by any means, whether sacrificial or moral, but it is never for¬ 
gotten that means are dispositive to that end: “This Spiritual Self is not 
to be taken hold of {labhyah) by the weak, nor in arrogance, nor by 
ardor without its countersign (of poverty); but he who being a Compre- 
hensor labors ( yatate ) with these means {updya), that Self dwells in 
Brahma-home” (Mund. Up. m.2.4). 

We have seen that the conquest of Ahi-Vrtra, the slaying and eating 72 
of the Dragon, is nothing but the domination of the self by the Self; 
and that the Burnt-offering is the symbol and should be the fact of this 
conquest. “He who makes the Burnt-offering {agnihotram) tears up 
the snare of greed, cuts down delusion and disparages anger” (MU vi.38); 
and so, “transcending the elemental powers and their objects ... he whose 
bowstring is his solitary life 73 and whose arrow is his lack of the conceit 

72 The eucharistic meal is of extreme importance in the Sacrifice. The essential 
and only indispensable part of the victim is the heart, for this is the mind, the life- 
breath and the “very self” of the victim; it is basted with ghi on a spit, and so 
made to be that living food of which the gods partake. In the Edda, Sigurd un¬ 
derstands the language of birds (“angels,” cf. Rene Guenon, “La Langue des 
otseaux" Voile d'Isis, xxxvi, 1931) when he tastes of Fafnir’s heart. 

15 The parivraja\a's quest (a Grail quest, like that of the Vedic rsayah) is strictly 
analogous to that of the knight errant and to that of the solar hero in our fairy 
tales. There must be no looking back (SB xn.5.2.15). 

135 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

of self-existence, 74 fells the keeper of the first of Brahma’s palace-gates, 
whose crown is delusion . . . and who slays all these beings with the ar¬ 
row of wishful thinking,” and may enter Brahma’s palace, whence he 
can look down upon the revolving wheel as may the charioteer upon 
the turning wheels of his vehicle; “but for one who is smitten and en- 
flamed by darkness and passion, a body-dweller attached to son or wife 
or kindred, no, never at all!” (Kaus. Up. 1.4 and MU vi .28 ). ij This 
“keeper” is assuredly the Dragon on the Hero’s path and the Guardian 
of the Tree of Life; in other words, the Death that every Solar Hero 
must overcome. We hope to show elsewhere that Indra s defeat of Ahi- 
Vrtra and the Bodhisatta’s conquest of Mara are relations of one and the 
same universal mythos. Here we have only proposed to emphasize that 
the Dragon, or Giant—by whatever name, whether we call him Ahi, 
Vrtra, Soma, Prajapati or Puru§a, or Osiris or Dionysos or Ymir—is always 
himself the Sacrifice, the sacrificial victim; and that the Sacrificer, whether 
divine or human, is always himself this victim, or else has made no real 
sacrifice. 

In sacrificing himself in the beginning, the Solar Hero, having been 
single, makes himself—or is made to be—many for the sake of those into 
whom he must enter if they are to find their Way “from darkness to 
light, death to immortality” (BU 1.3.28). He divides himself, and “Ex¬ 
cept ye cat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no 
life in you” (John 6:53); and as we have seen, he is swallowed up in 
us, like a buried treasure. In this cosmic crucifixion the Sacrifice is “ex¬ 
tended”; and insofar as we think and act in terms of the pairs of op¬ 
posites, think of him in the noumenal and phenomenal aspect under 
which he enters into the world (SB xi.2.3.4, 5), we “crucify him daily.” 
If his sacrifice is an act of grace, and it is because of his love (prend) 
for his offspring that he enters into them (TS v.5.2.1) in whom as only 
Samsarin (BrSBh 1.1.5) he submits to repeated deaths (JUB 111.11.1 ff., 
cf. RV x.72.9), it is, on the other hand, a murder that is committed by 
whoever, human or divine, sacrifices another; the slaying and dismem- 

74 Cf. Mund. Up. 11.2.3, where the arrow is oneself, Brahma the target. [“Such 
a blind shot with the sharp dart of longing love may never fail of the prick, which 
is God,” Epistle of Discretion , by the author of the Cloud of Unknowing (cf. Ed¬ 
mund Gardner, ed., The Cell of Self-knowledge , London, 1910, for text of the 

Epistle).] ., , 

73 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife, ana 

children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life (>pvxv, soul ) also > he 
cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). 


ATM AY AINA-. SELF-SACRIFICE 

berment of Vrtra is, in fact, on Indra’s part an original sin ( \ilbisa ) 
because of which he is often excluded from the Soma drinking, and for 
which atonement must be made (TS 11.5.3.6, AB vn.31, KB xv.3; cf. 
SB 1.2.3, in.9.4.17, xii.6.1.40, etc.). 76 

“We” are aggregates of the functional powers that are the offspring 
(praja/i) of Prajapati (Brahma, Atman, Prana, Sun) and the names of 
his acts; it is the universal Self that operates in each of our many selves, 
seeing, thinking, etc., into which it is divided; it is this Self that collects 
itself when we die, and that passes on to other habitations, the nature of 
which is predetermined by its own former activities. Whether or not 
“we” survive this passage will depend upon whether our consciousness 
of being—not to be confused with our “waking” powers of perception, 
of which nothing survives the transition 77 —is in him, or in “ourselves.” 
It remains, however, for this Wanderer, and for us if we have known 
him and not merely ourselves, to “collect himself” once and for all and 
to return from this round of becomings to himself; having been many, 
he must again become one; having died again and again, he must be 
resurrected once and for all. The second phase of the Sacrifice, then, and 
from our present position in the manifold the most essential part of it, 
consists in the putting together ( samd/id ) again of what had been dis¬ 
membered, and the building up ( samskr) of another and unitary Self 
that shall be our Self when this present self is no more. This unification 
and “coming into one’s own” is at once a death, a rebirth, an assimilation, 
and a marriage. 

We must not, however, suppose that “we” are the heroes of this cosmic 
drama: there is but One Hero. It is the God that “fetters himself by 
himself like a bird in the net” laid by the huntsman Death, and the God 
that breaks out of the snare, 78 or, otherwise stated, crosses over the torrent 
of life and death to its further shore by the bridge that is made of his 
own Spirit, or as one climbing reaches the top of the tree to rest on his 
eyrie or soar at will. He, and not this man So-and-so, is my Self, and it 
>s not by any acts of “mine,” but only by knowing Him (in the sense 
that knowing and being are one), by knowing Who we are that “we” 

76 Just as in the slaying of Soma, Mitra does a “cruel deed” (TS vi.4.8.1). 

, '^ fter dcatl ' there is no consciousness” (na pretya samjndsti, BU ir.4.12): 
78.. *1 know not anything” (Eccl. 9:5). 

T * “Liberation is for the Gods, not for man ” (A. H. Gebhard-L’Estrange, The 
p™ H ' on °f Nlence in Myth and Legend, Boston, 1940, p. 7). In tire Philosophia 
tennis, this is as striedy orthodox as Sankara’s “Verily, there is no other trans- 
m, grant than the Lord” (BrSBh 1.1.5). 





ATM AY AINA: SELF-SACRIFICE 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

can be set free. That is why all traditions have insisted upon the primary 
necessity of self-knowledge: not in the modem psychologist’s sense, but 
in that of the question “Which self?” that of the oracle “Know thyself,” 
and that of the words Si ignoras te, egredere. “By the Self one findeth 
manhood, by comprehension findeth immortality; great is the destruction 
if one hath not found Him here and now! ( atmand vindate viryam, 
vidyaya vindate’mrtam ... na ced ihd'vedin mahati vinastih, JUB iv.19.4, 
5 ).” “With himself he indwells the Self, who is a Comprehensor thereof” 
(samvisaty atmanatmanam ya evam veda, VS xxxii.n). What thou, Agni, 
art, that may I be!” (TS 1.57.6). 


Appendix 1 : On Peace 

"What is the best thing of all for a man, 
that he may ask. from the gods?" 

"That he may be always at peace with himself ." 

Contest of Homer and Hesiod , 320. 

Soma’s “pacification” is his quietus as a Varupya principle. Cf. TS 11.1.9.2, 
where by means of Mitra the priest “pacifies” {samayati) Varupa, and 
thus frees the sacrificer from Varupa’s noose; and TS v.5.10.5, where 
the dangerous deities might suck in ( dhyayeyuh) the sacrificer and he 
“appeases” ( samayati ) them with the oblations. The ritual slayer is a 
samitr, one who gives the quietus (RV v.43.4, SB 111.8.3.4, etc.). In the 
same way, the sacrifice of the Christian victim is for atonement, to make 
peace with the angry Father. And while appeasement implies a satisfac¬ 
tion or gratification of the person appeased, it must never be overlooked 
that peace (sdnti) can never be made with an enemy; in one way or an¬ 
other he must be put to death as an enemy (although “it is his evil, not 
himself that they slay”) before he can be made a friend of. So when the 
will is pacified (upasdmyate, MU vi.34) it is “stilled,” and when the 
psychophysical self is “conquered and pacified (jita . • • prasantah, BO 
vi 7)” by the Supreme Self, it has been sacrificed. Desire cannot survive 
the attainment of its object; only the “dead” who do not desire, because 
their desire is realized, are at peace, and hence the frequent association 
of the words a\ama (without desire) and dptak&ma (with desire at¬ 
tained), e.g., BU iv.3.21 and iv.4.6. 

There is similarly in Lat. pax a sinister significance (well seen in tne 


case of imperalistic wars of “pacification”); the connections of the word 
are with pangere, paciscor, and Skr. pdsa, “fetter,” esp. of Death. Eng. 
dispatch (esp. in the sense to “kill”) contains the same root; the victim’s 
is a “happy dispatch" precisely because he is released or unleashed from 
the fetter or penalty imposed by the Law. A treaty of peace is a thing 
imposed (primary sense of pangere) on an enemy: it is only insofar as 
the enemy, presumed a rebel (the war being just and the victory that of 
right rather than might, as is assumed in all traditional ordeals including 
those of single or other combat), repents and willingly submits to the 
bonds into which he enters, that the “peace” is really an “agreement,” the 
santi a samjndna, and that is why the “consent” of the sacrificial victim 
is always secured; cf. SB xm.2.8.2, where that “they make it consent 
(samjnapayanti) means that they kill the victim.” In this case the “enemy” 
is really resurrected as a “friend”; or in other words, it is not himself 
but his evil that is “killed.” 

There is thus a kind of peace (which I have elsewhere called “inter¬ 
necine”) that can be only too easily understood; but also another “that 
passeth all understanding.” It is only the peace by agreement that is real 
and that can endure; and it is for this reason that Gandhi would rather 
see the English relinquish, i.e., sacrifice, their hold on India of their own 
free will than see them compelled to do so by force. The same applies 
to the holy war of the Spirit with the carnal soul; if there is to be “unity 
in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), the soul must have “put itself to death,” 
and not simply have been suppressed by force majeure of violent as¬ 
ceticism and penances. And similarly in the case of the “war of the sexes,” 
which is only a special case of war of the Spirit with the Soul. 


Appendix 2 : Sesa, An ant a, Anantaram 

TS 11.4.12, yad asisyata = RV 1.28.9, ucchistam, not the “dregs” of Soma, 
but what is “left” when the Soma has been extracted from the now dry 
twigs or husks. In this inexhaustible ucchistam (as in Vrtra) all things 
are contained (AV xi.7), “everything is synthesized within it ( ucchiste 
■ ■ • tnsvam antah samahitam, AV xi.7.1)”; “plenum is That (Brahma), 
plenum This (All), when plenum is out-turned ( udacyate ) from plenum, 
This All from Vrtra) plenum remains” ( avasisyate , BU v.5), “. . . 
• ea ’ That may we know today whence This was poured out” (uto 


138 


139 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


ATMAY A] ft A: SELF-SACRIFICE 


tad adya vidhyama yatas tat parisicyate, AV x.8.29; Whitney s that . . . 
whence that” for tad ... yatas tat betrays the literal and the logical sense). 
Brahma, in other words, is infinite (« anantaram), the brahma-yoni in¬ 
exhaustible. 

Yad a'sisyata = Sesa, i.e., Ananta, the World Serpent, the Swallower 
in whom all possibilities whatever are latent and from whom all pos¬ 
sibilities of manifestation are extracted; and this endless ( ananta) circle 
is precisely that of Midgardsworm ( Gylfiginning, 46-48) [see Edda Snor- 
ra Sturlusonar med Skaldatali, ed. Gudni Jonsson (Reykjavik, 1935) 
ed.], that of “der Schlange, die sich in den eigenen Schwanz beisst, [und 
die] stellt den Aon dar" (Alfred Jeremias, Der Antichrist in Geschichte 
und Gegenwart, Leipzig, 1930, p. 5), that of Agni “footless and headless, 
hiding both his ends (apad asirsd guhamano antd) when first born in 
the region’s ground ( budhne rajasah, i.e., as Ahi Budhnya), from his 
womb (asya yonau, RV iv.i.ii; cf. x.79.2, guhd siro nihitam rdhag aksi)," 
Prajapati “sightless, headless, recumbent ( apasyam amu{ham saydnam, 
JUB 111.38),” Vftra-Kumara “handles and footless ( ahastam . . . apddam, 
RV x.30.8).” In the same way Brahma “was the one and only Endless 
( eko'nantah , MU vi.17),” Brahma has no ends (anto ndsti yad brahma, 
TS vii.3.1.4), “footless he came into being erst (apad agre samabhavat, 
AV x.8.21),” 70 “as an Asura ( so’gre asurabhavat)": he (Akjara) is a 
“blind (-worm) and deaf (-adder) having no interval (aca{sus{am asro- 
tram . . . anantaram , BU m.8.8)”; “both blind and deaf, without hands 
or feet ( aca\suhsrotram tad apany apddam . . . bhutayomm, Mund- Up. 
1.2.6)”; the “endless (anantam)" Chant is like a necklace “of which the 
ends come together (. samantam ),” a serpent constricting its coils ( bhogdn 
samdhrtya, meaning also “assembling its enjoyments”), and the Year,’" 

79 Cf. “Inasmuch as he came into being footless {apad), he (Vrtra) was the 
Serpent (Ahi),” SB ..6.3.9. The Commentary on AV .v.6.i equates the pnme-born 
Brahma, who drank the Soma and made its poison harmless, with Taksaka 

(Sesa). . 

AV iv.6.3 makes Garutman the first drinker of the poison. This Garutman is 
probably that one of the two Suparna of RV ..164.20 that eats of the fruit of the 
tree; there may be a real connection of visa, poison, and vtsaya, object of per¬ 
ception. In any case these legends are perhaps the prototypes for the Puramc myth 
of Siva’s drinking of the poison produced at the Churning of the Ocean. 

so cf AV x.8.12, “Ending, indeed, but endless inasmuch as his (Brahma-Fra- 
japati’s) ends are united,” or “finite, indeed, but infinite because of confimty 
(anantam . . . antavac ca samante ); these two (ends, confines) the Keeper of the 
Vault, comprehending what hath been and shall be (bhutam uta bhavyam) thereof, 
goes on distinguishing {carat, vicinvan ).” This is the “entering in of time from 


“endless” because its two ends, Winter and Spring, are united (samdhatah, 
JUB 1.35.7fl-)- The Buddha is “footless (apadam , Dh 179),” like Mara 
(A iv.434, M 1.180). 

“What is the beginning, that is the end” (Keith), or rather “He who 
is the coming forth is also the returning ( yo hy eva prabhavah sa evapy- 
ayah, AA 111.2.6; cf. KU vi.n, Mand. Up. 6, and BG xvm.16).” “His 
before and after are the same” (yad asya purvam aparam tad asya, AB 
111.43); in other words, “He is fontal and inflowing” (Eckhart), his 
departure when we end is “the flight of the alone to the alone” (Ploti¬ 
nus). And accordingly “That” is what remains there (aira parisisyate) 
when the body-dweller ( dehinah , not my “soul” but my Self) is untied 
and liberated from the body (KU v.4); what then remains over (ati’sisy- 
ate) is the immortal Self (atman, CU vni.1.4-5). As it is in and as this 
Self that the Comprehensor is reborn from the pyre, the “transcendent 
residue ( atisesa )” is the analogue there of the “residue (sesa)" that he 
leaves behind him here to inherit the character from which, as brahmavit 
and brahmabhuta , he has now been released from mortal manifestation 
to immortal essence without distinction of apara from para brahma. 
Therefore the Serpent ( naga ) is the interpretation (nirvacanam) of the 
“religious whose issues have ceased (\hindsava bhi{{hu, M 1.142-45)”: 
as is Brahma a\sara. “The last step to fare without feet”; “in me is no I 
and no we, I am naught, without head without feet” (RumI, Divan, 
pp. 137, 295). Thus “we are brought face to face with the astounding 
fact [less astounding, perhaps, in view of what has been said above] that 
Zeus, father of gods and men, is figured by his worshippers as a snake,” 
and the correlative fact that “all over Greece the dead hero was wor¬ 
shipped in snake form and addressed by euphemistic titles akin to that 
of Meilichios” (Jane Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of the Greek, 
Religion, Cambridge, 1922, pp. 18, 20, 325ff.). 81 God is the undying, or 
rather ever renascent Serpent, with whom every Solar Hero must do 
battle, and to whom in turn the Hero is assimilated when he tastes of the 
great antagonist’s flesh and blood. We take this opportunity to call atten¬ 
tion to the Story of King Karade in the “Alsatian Parzival,” 82 a legend 

the halls of the outer heaven,” the bisection or decapitation of Makha-Vrtra, the 
act of creation,” and the first act of the Sacrifice of which the last end is to 
reunite the "head” with the “body.” 

The ‘beards” of the Greek snakes perhaps represent the “spectacle marks” of 
a cobra. 

s S'" T- K. Heller, “The Story of the Sorcerer’s Serpent,” Speculum, xv (1940), 
33 ° ff., and literature there cited. 


140 


141 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


that recalls in more than one detail the Indian versions of the enmities of 
Indra and Vrtra. In the Karade story, the sorcerer Elyafrcs, who himself 
performs the Green Knight’s feat, allowing himself to be decapitated and 
later reappearing uninjured, is the Queen’s lover and the natural father 
of the King’s supposed son Karados. Elyafres has been decapitated by 
Karados, and when he reappears at the end of a year to return blow for 
blow, in place of any physical blow he reveals to Karados his true 
paternity. Karados, however, takes the side of his legal father. The Queen 
then persuades Elyafres to create a serpent, to be the destroyer of Karados, 
just as Vrtra is created to be Indra’s mortal enemy, with the same result 
in both cases, the intended victor becoming either directly or indirectly 
itself the sufferer. The serpent winds itself about Karados’ arm, and 
cannot be undone. Karados is only saved by his betrothed, Guingenier, 
and her brother; Guingenier exposes her breast to the serpent’s gaze, and 
when it extends itself towards her, the brother cuts it to pieces. We shall 
not attempt to analyze the whole of this most interesting myth here, but 
point out that the sorcerer Elyafres corresponds to Tvastr, the Mayin; 
Karados to Indra, who is Tvastr’s son and enemy as Karados is Elyafres’; 
the serpent to Ahi-Vrtra; and that the motif of the coils corresponds to 
the event as related in TS v.4.5.4, where Vrtra “ties up Indra in sixteen 
coils ( sodasabhir bhogair asinat)." From these coils Indra can only be 
freed by Agni, who burns them. In the Indian mythology, Agni is In¬ 
dra's brother; in the Karade story, it is not, indeed, the hero’s brother, 
but it is his brother-in-law that destroys the serpent. 


Appendix 3 : Nakula: ’O^to/rdxtJS 

In AV vi.139.6, we find a love charm, “as the mongoose, having cut 
to pieces a snake, puts it together again, so do thou, herb of virility, put 
together again what of love was cut to pieces ( yatha na\ulo vichidya 
samdadhati ahim punah, eva . . .).’’ The mongoose is, indeed, a killer 
of snakes, an ahihan, but it has not been recorded by naturalists that it 
can put them together again. Perhaps we should have said, “as the Mon¬ 
goose, having cut Ahi (-Vrtra) to pieces, puts him together again.” In 
order to solve this riddle, we shall go far afield before returning to it. 

In Lev. 11:22, the word hargal, one of four creatures presumed to be 
insects and permitted to be used as food, is rendered in the Revised 

142 



ATM AYAJNA: SELF-SACRIFICE 


Version by “beetle” and in the Septuagint by b&op.axn’i, lit. “snake- 
fiohter ” Philo (De opificio mundi 1.39) says that “this is an animal (cp~e- 
r 6 v ) s3 having legs above its feet, with which it springs from the ground and 
lifts itself into the air like a grasshopper.” This is a fair description of the be¬ 
havior of a mongoose or ichneumon in the presence of a snake, and is also 
justified by the derivation of hargal from V harag, to leap suddenly; 
that is what a mongoose does when struck at by a snake, thus avoiding 
the blow; in any case the Hebrews did not eat beetles, but might eat 
quadrupeds “which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the 
earth” (Lev. 11:21), i.e., having legs long enough to do so, and there is 
nothing in the text of w.21, 22 to show that all four of the creatures 
listed in v.22 must have been insects. However, we shall not say anything 
more about hargal, as it is sufficient for our purpose that it is rendered 
:„ ^ Qpntmmni- wVurh Philn follows, hv of/ii.nu.(£vnc. and in the Vul¬ 


gate by ophiomachus. 

According to Hesychius, o^io/xax 3 ?? is Ixvevjxcov, and also a kind of 
wingless locust. This ambiguity can be explained by the fact that there 
is an “ichneumon fly,” a kind of wasp, doubtless so called because it lays 
its eggs in caterpillars and so kills them, 81 and hence might be called a 
“snake killer” if we bear in mind that snakes are traditionally “worms.” 
But such wasps are neither edible nor wingless, and there can be no doubt 
that our d^io/mxt?? is an ichneumon, i.e., the Egyptian mongoose, Herpes 
ichneumon , an animal that “tracks” (as the word lxvev/j.uiv implies) 85 


63 The rendering of ipnerov by "reptile” (Colson and Whitaker in LCL) is im¬ 
possible. Philo cannot have meant this, as he would have known very well that 
the Hebrews did not eat reptiles; the original sense of (pntrov, despite the etymol¬ 
ogy, identical with that of "serpent,” is merely that of "quadruped” as distin¬ 
guished from “biped” (H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek.-English Lexicon), and 
it is certainly in this sense that Philo used the word. 

81 The Indians were aware of this, and though they did not quite understand 
what actually takes place in nature, used the simile, “as the worm becomes the 
wasp” (losing its own nature and taking on that of its slayer), as an exemplum 
of deification, of what takes place when the liberated self devo bhutvd devan apyeti 
(BU iv.1.2); this (Jr'iurris- implying, in the words of Nicolas of Cusa, an ablatio 
omnis alteritatis et diversitatis. 

85 Skr. mrg and Gk. l-^vcuoi are used alike in the Vedic texts and by Plato with 
reference to the “tracking” of the Hidden Light or the Truth. 

Lat. calcatrix = cockatrice is also properly the “Tracker” (if not rather “Tread- 
er ), and according to Webster “originally an ichneumon” but also a “water 
snake,” sometimes confused with the crocodile but an enemy of crocodiles. The 
heraldic Cockatrice or Basilisk, a winged Griffin, with a serpent’s tail, is sometimes 
thought of as an asp, sometimes as a bird. The Hebrew tsefar (Isa. 11:8, Vulgate 
regains) seems to have been a bird, and as enemy of reptiles must be thought 


143 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


crocodiles and eats their eggs, and also kills and eats snakes (as the word 
implies). Plutarch, Moralia 380F, quite rightly says that the 
Egyptians “revered” (ert/wjo-a v) the ichneumon. For as Adolf Erman 
tells us, in an account of the divine animals of Egypt, “amongst these is 
the ichneumon rat into which Atum (the Sun god) changed himself 
when fighting against Apophis” (Die Religion der Agypter, Berlin and 
Leipzig, 1934, p. 46), i.e., Apophis-Seth, the Egyptian Serpent or Drag¬ 
on god, the constant enemy of the Sun, in a word the “Egyptian 
Vrtra.” Thus Daressy, discussing an inscription on the statue of the 
Pharoah “Zedher le Sauveur” (4th century b.c.), reads “Iusaat, the eye of 
Ra, became an animal of 46 cubits in order to combat Apap in his 
fury . . . the text proceeding to say that he may be invoked in cases 
of snake poisoning (Annales du Service des Antiquites de I'Egypte, 
XVIII, 116,117). Sethe takes up the matter again in “Atum als Ichneumon” 
in Aegyptische Sprache und Alter turn s\unde, LXIII (1928), 50: “Re‘ 
changed himself into a ‘d animal of 46 ells, to slay the serpent Apophis 
as he raged.” He further cites and illustrates a sculptured representation 
of the Egyptian mongoose, bearing the inscription “Atum, the guardian 
God of Heliopolis,” and concludes that the ichneumon and the Sun 
god “share a common name (‘ nd ) because they are both victors in the 
dangerous battle with the snake.” A more detailed account of “Das 
Ichneumon in der iigyptischen Religion und Kunst” is given by Gunther 
Roeder in Egyptian Religion, IV (1936): in several statuettes of the erect 
type, the Sun and Uraeus are represented on the ichneumon’s head. 

Can we assume that the Indian mongoose ( na{ula ) had also been 
a symbol and type of the solar Indra as Ahihan? We have no direct evi¬ 
dence for this, beyond the implications of AV vi.139.5 already cited. But 
there is rather cogent indirect evidence in the fact that the female mon¬ 
goose ( nakuli ), equated with the tongue, was certainly a type of the 
feminine principle in the cosmos, namely, Vac (Sarasvatt, Earth, etc.). 
In RV 1.126.6, Svanaya (whom Indra has aided, probably the Sun) says 
that “She who is clasped and dipt, who like the she-mongoose {\asi\d, 
Sayana na\uli) conceals herself ( jangahe ), she moistened gives me the 

of as a Sunbird, perhaps a vulture, which actually tramples on its ophidian prey. 
The heraldic Cockatrice, with its combination of avian and ophidian characters, 
should be a type of the Supreme Identity of the two contrasted principles, divine 
and titanic, which can only be characterized as “good and evil” when they are in 
opposition, i.e., in die world with its “pairs of opposites,” which opposites are, 
properly speaking contraries rather than contradictories. 


144 


ATM AYAJNA: SELF-SACRIFICE 


hundred joys of rutting”; she, who in her reply calls herself Romasa 
(hairy) and says that she is fleeced like a Gandharan ewe, is, according 
to Sayana, “Brhaspati’s daughter.” She must be, in fact, the “tongue” 
(juhu, i.e., Vac), Brhaspati’s wife in RV x.109.5 and the she-mongoose 
of AA m.2.5, “the mistress of all speech, shut in by the two lips, enclosed 
by the teeth (ostd apinaddha nakuli dantaih parivrta sarvasyai vdca lia¬ 
na)" apinaddha and parivrta corresponding to agadhita and parigadhita 
in 1.126.6 and explaining jangahe (middle intensive from V gah, “sich 
verstecken”). 86 The point of all this is that nakuli being Vac, etc., her 
masculine counterpart must have been thought of as na\ula, the male 
mongoose, and may have been so spoken of in some lost text (as in the 
case of other pairs with corresponding names, such as Surya, Surya; 
Vasa, VasI; Rukma, Rukma; Mahi?a, Mahisi, etc.). The “mongoose” 
(m.) would thus have been a type ( rupa ) of Indrabrhaspatl or of either 
Bfhaspati or Indra as “snake-fighter.” Brhaspati and Indra are preemi¬ 
nently sacrificcrs. And what is the essential in the Sacrifice? In the first 
place, to divide, and in the second to reunite. He being One, becomes 
or is made into Many, and being Many becomes again or is put together 
again as One. The breaking of bread is a division of Christ’s body made 
in order that we may be “all builded together in him.” God is One as 
He is in Himself, but Many as He is in His children (SB x.5.2.16). 
Prajapati’s “joints are unstrung” by the emanation of his children, and 
“he, whose joints were unstrung, could not put them together again (ra 
visrastaih parvabhih na sasaka samhatum, SB 1.6.3.36 = prajah .. . tdbhy- 
ah punah sambhavitum nasa\noti, TS v.5.2.1)”; 87 the final purpose of 
the Sacrifice is to put him together again and it is this that is done in 
the Sacrifice by himself ( sa chandobhir dtmanam samadadhat , ss AA 
111.2.6, etc.) or by the gods or any sacrificer, who reintegrate themselves 
with him at one and the same time (SB passim). Prajapati is, of course, the 
Year ( samvatsara, passim)-, as such, his partition is the distinction of 
times from the principle of Time; his “joints ( parvani )” are the junc- 

88 Other interpretations of jangahe are possible and even plausible. Our purpose 
has been to show that na\uti is, in fact, a type of the feminine half of the divine 
Vzygy, nakida by implication a type of the male half. If nakula can be equated 
with Indra as Ahihan, as is intrinsically plausible, this would also serve to explain 
Kubera's na\ula as his purse, the inexhaustible source of his wealth, Indra being 
always the great dispenser. 

1 Having fettered himself by himself, like a bird in the net, MU 11.2, vi.30. 

Becoming thus again samahita, “in samadhi converse of hita, prahita , prativi- 
h,ta , nihita, etc. 


145 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


ATM AY AINA: SELF-SACRIFICE 


tions of day and night, of the two halves of the month, and of the seasons 
(e.g., Winter and Spring, see Appendix i for the “united ends of the 
endless Year”), SB 1.6.3.35, 36- In the same way Ahi-Vrtra, whom Indra 
cuts up into “joints ( parvani , RV iv.19.3, vm.6.13, vm.7.23, etc.)” was 
originally “jointless” or “inarticulate 89 ( aparvah , RV iv.19.3),” i.e., “end¬ 
less ( anantah ).” In the same way, Indra divides Magha-Vala (RV m.34.10, 
TB 11.6.13.1), i.e., Makha (the Sacrifice, PB vn.5.6, and saumya, cf. RV 
ix.20.7 ma\ho na . . . soma) “whom so long as he was One the Many 
could not overcome” (TA v.1.3). 

We have already seen that the Indian texts interpret the slaying of 
Ahi-Vrtra metaphysically and identify Vrtra with the aesthetic, passible, 
emotional “elemental self” that is seated in the “bowels.” I cannot cite 
Egyptian texts to the same effect, but there can be no doubt that for the 
Egyptians the conflict of the Sun with Apophis-Seth was one of light 
against darkness, good against evil. For the Hebrews, the Serpent who 
persuaded the mother of all mankind to cat of the fruit of the tree is 
certainly the type of evil and the enemy above all others; while “the word 
[nefes = anima] translated ‘soul’ so often in our English version meant 
. . . for all Hebrews, the lower, physical nature, the appetites, the psyche 
of Paul. It was used also to express ‘self,’ but always with that lower 
meaning behind it” (D. B. Macdonald, The Hebrew Philosophical Ge¬ 
nius, Princeton, 1934, p. 139, cf. p. 99) . 00 The serpent is explicitly this 
“soul” for Philo and Plutarch. Philo says that “the snake-fighter (o$t©- 
fmxi ]?) is, I think, nothing but a symbolic representation of self-control 
(ey/cpdreia), waging a fight that never ends and a truceless war against 
incontinence and pleasure. . . . For if serpentlike pleasure is a thing un¬ 
nourishing and injurious, sanity, the nature that is at war with pleasure, 

89 “Inarticulate,” here “continuous,” “undivided”; but also just as in another 
sense the silent ( asabda ) Brahma is inarticulate ( aniru\ta , etc.), and the expressive 
(sabda) Brahma articulate ( nirukta , etc.). 

00 It is one of the chief defects of this interesting book that the author speaks 
of “Plato’s psyche" as if this had been one single and altogether divine principle 
(pp. 99, 139). Plato, in fact, always speaks of two souls, appetitive and rational, 
the former corresponding to Hebrew nefes and St. Paul’s psyche , and the latter to 
Hebrew ruah and St. Paul’s pneuma (as also to the Indian sartra and asarira atman, 
bhutatman and antah purusa). Macdonald does not sec that inasmuch as the He¬ 
brew could “speak with himself and reason with himself’ (p. 139), this involves 
two “selves,” as was demonstrated once for all by Plato ( Republic 430F.F, 43 6b , 
604B, etc.), these two being nefes and ruah. The latter, which comes from God 
and is reabsorbed in him (of which Ecclesiastes “is heartily glad, for it means a 
final escape for man” [p. 128], i.e., if he knows who he is and in which self he 
will be departing at death) is the “one and only Samsarin” of the Vedanta. 

146 


must be most nutritious and a saving power. . . . Therefore set up mind 
(yviap-y)> t h e snake-fighter, against it, and contend to the last in this 
noblest contest” {Legum allegoriae 1.39, 85, 86); and Plutarch that “Ty- 
phon (Seth) is that part of the soul which is passible and titanic (•n-affoyri- 
K bv /cat tito.vi.k 6 v) irrational (akoyov) and forward, and of the bodily 
part the perishable, diseased and disordered, as is shown in abnormal 
seasons and temperatures, and by eclipses of the sun and disappearances 
of the moon, eruptions as it were and lawless acts on the part of Ty- 
phon . • - whose name signifies ‘restraint’ or ‘hindrance’ ” (Moralia 371 
b.c .). 91 In Christianity, the “Serpent” is still the “Tempter.” 

The Indians may have thought that the mongoose not only bit to pieces 
the snake but also put it together again, somewhat as the weasel of folk¬ 
lore is supposed to revive its dead mate by means of a life-giving herb. It 
may be, and probably is, with an “herb of virility” that the mongoose of 
AV 139.6 puts the “snake” together again and so “heals ( bhesajati )” it 
as they “heal” the divided Year in SB 1.6.3.35, 3<>; and we can even sa y 
that the Ahi identified with the “soul” (the “double-tongued” Aditi-Vac 
of SB 111.24.16) is the “mate” of the Nakula identified with the divine 
Eros who, assuredly, “puts together again whatever of love is divided.” 
But bearing in mind that supernatural no more means unnatural than 
superessential means nonessential, we say that it is not as natural history 
but as myth that the acts of the mongoose are to be understood. The 
nal{ula-6if>i6p.a.xr)<; is a type or exemplum of the divine or human sacri- 
ficer; the snake “a symbol of magic healing.” 92 

91 “Self-government” ( svaraj ), i.e., “inward government of the worse by the nat¬ 
urally better part” of us (Plato, Republic 431 ab, etc.). 

02 Cf. Grimm, Mdrchen, 16, “Die drei Schlangenblatter,” and the snake that As- 
klepios was, which later survives coiled about his staff. 


147 




The late Sanskrit word llld, as is well known, describes any kind of play- 
ing, and may be compared in meaning to Gr. —atSid. Here we shall be 
chiefly concerned with the reference of lild to the divine manifestation 
and activity thought of as a “sport,” “playing,” or “dalliance.” 

In such a conception there is nothing strange or uniquely Indian. Meis- 
ter Eckhart, for example, says: “There has always been this play going 
on in the Father-nature . . . from the Father’s embrace of his own na¬ 
ture there comes this eternal playing of the Son. 1 This play was played eter¬ 
nally before all creatures. . . . The playing of the twain is the Holy Ghost 
in whom they both disport themselves and he disports himself in both. 
Sport and players are the same” (Evans ed., p. 148); Boehmc adds “not 
that this joy first began with the creation, no, for it was from eternity. .. . 
The creation is the same sport out of himself” ( Signatura rerum xvi.2-3). 

That Plato thought of the divine activity as a game is shown by his 
calling us God’s “toys”—“and as regards the best in us, that is what we 
really are”; 2 whence he goes on to say that we ought to dance accordingly, 

[This article was first published in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, 
XLI (1941).—ED.] 

' Cf. BU iv. 1.6, where the beatitude ( ananda ) of Brahma is explained by the 
fact that “by means of his Intellect ( manas ) he consorts with the Woman,” i.e., 
Vac. The divine beatitude is occasioned, so to say, by the eternal reunion of essence 
and nature in divinis-, “that same mystery of the eternal generation, in which there 
has been an eternal perfection” (Jacob Boehme, Signatura rerum xvi.i). 

2 We are the “pieces" that the Draughts-player moves, not arbitrarily, but in 
accordance with our own deserts; “a wondrous easy task” because, although He is 
the author of our being, we ourselves arc responsible for being what we are, and 
all that the game requires is to move each piece into a better or worse position in 
accordance with its own character ( Laws 904, cf. Heracleitus, fr. 79). This is 
essentially an enunciation of the law of \arma and the doctrine that “Fate lies in 
the created causes themselves.” [On God’s game of chess, cf. Rumi, Divan, Ode x, 
“How happy the king that is mated to thy rook,” and Mathnawi 1.600, 11.2645, 3 2I 3 > 
tv. 1555, on the ball in the polo-field, which only moves as it ought “when it is made 
to dance by the King's hand.” 

D. B. Macdonald, on the basis of Prov. 8:30, 31, remarks that the Hebrews “came 
to think of man as part of an animated toy spread before the eyes of Jehovah and 


obeying only that one golden cord of the Law by which the puppet is 
suspended from above, 3 and so pass through life not taking human affairs 
to heart but “playing at the finest games”; not as those playboys play 
whose lives are devoted to sports, but being “otherwise minded” than 
those whose acts are motivated by their own interest or pleasure (Laws 


giving Him joy” ( The Hebrew Philosophical Genius, Princeton, 1936, pp. 50, 134, 
136).] 

3 Cf. BU m.7.1, where (to combine the text and Sayana’s commentary): “Do 
you know that Thread by which, and that Inner Controller by which and by whom, 
this world and the other and all beings are strung together and controlled from 
within, so that they move like a puppet, performing their respective functions?” 
That Plato knew of a “thread-spirit” ( sutratman ) doctrine is implied in the passage 
cited from the Laws and confirmed by the fact that in Theaetetus 153 he connects 
the golden cord of Iliad vm.i8ff. with the Sun, to whom all things are bound 
by it, just as in SB vi.7.1.17; cf. AV x.8.39 and BG vii.7. [We cannot treat the doc¬ 
trine of the “golden cord” at full length here, but may point out that the thought 
of Iliad vm.23 epvtjaj.pi (bearing in mind that in this verb, notably in middle and 
passive forms, the sense of “draw” can hardly be separated from that of "rescue”) 
underlies John 12:32 r-arras IKkvoui irpos e/iavrov, Hermes, Lib. xvi.5 els avrov to. 
1rdrra e \kiov and xvi.7 draSycros eis cavTov, and Dante, Paradiso 1.117, “Qucsti la 
terra in se stringc ed aduna.”] 

The two notable Buddhist references to the human puppet (S 1.134, Thcrigatha 
11.390 ff.) ignore the Puppeteer, their only purpose being to show that the puppet 
is a composite and evanescent product of causal concatenation, not to be regarded as 
one’s Self. RumI apostrophises, “O ridiculous puppet, that lcapest out of thy hole 
(box), as if to say ‘I am the lord of the land,' how long wilt thou leap? Abase 
thyself, or they will bend thee, like a bow” (Rumi, Divan, Ode xxxvi); ridicu¬ 
lous, because “Whoso hath not escaped from (self-)will, no will hath he” (ibid., 
Ode xiii). Here “they” refers to the contrary pulls of the affections, instincts, likes, 
and dislikes by which the animal man, by no means self-moving, “is dragged 
this way or that,” to good or evil as the case may be (Plato, Laws 644D, echoed 
in Hermes, Lib. xvi.14). Cf. Aristotle, De anima 111.10 (433a), “Appetite produces un¬ 
accountable (irapa tov Xoyiopov) movement: for e-mbupla is a kind of appetite, and 
reason (vous) is never wrong.” 

We, in fact, resent the mechanistic interpretation of our individuality only be¬ 
cause we identify our being with the “little self” of the puppet, and not with that 
of the Great Self of the Puppeteer. Man, Per sua diffalta . . . ed in affanno cambio 
oncsto riso e dolce gioco (Dame, Purgatorio xxviii. 95, 96)! What is really meant 
to be God's toy and dance accordingly is to have made His will our own; to play 
with him on the stage rather than for ourselves; and at the same time to share his 
point of view who looks on from above, or from the stalls, or from the sidelines 
(according to the metaphor); to have become no longer the victims, but the 
spectators of our own fate. 


[D. B. Macdonald, Hebrew Philosophical Genius, p. T35, observes that “the puppets 
^e self-conscious and have a certain choice as to which cord they will allow to 
, ra '\ them. The choice lies between the life of instinct and the “reasonable” 
U'ara Ao-yov) life; but in saying this we must remember that when Plato says 
gui ed by Reason” he means “doing the will of God” and not a merely common 
tense or pragmatic “behavior”; we mean by “reason” what he calls “opinion.”] 


148 


149 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

644, 803, 804). Plato’s otherwise-minded “philosopher” who, having made 
the ascent and seen the light, returns to the Cave to take part in the life 
of the world (Republic vn) is really an avatara (“one who has gone 
down again”), one who could say with Krishna: “There is naught in 
the Three Worlds I have need to do, nor anything I have not gotten that 
I might get, yet I participate in action. . . . Just as the ignorant, being 
attached to actions, act, even so should the Comprehensor, being unat¬ 
tached, also act, with a view to the maintenance of order in the world” 
(BG m.22-25). 4 It is in the same connection of ideas that the word Hid 
appears for the first time in the Brahma Sutra, 11.1.32, 33, na prayoja- 
natvat, lo\avat tu lild\aivalyam, “Brahma’s creative activity is not under 
taken by way of any need on his part, but simply by way of sport, in 
the common sense of the word.” 5 

The emphasis is, we realize, always upon the idea of a “pure” activity 
that can properly be described as “playful” because the game is played, 
not as “work” is ordinarily performed, with a view to secure some end 
essential to the worker’s well-being, but exuberantly; the worker works 
for what he needs, the player plays because of what he is. The work is 

‘To complete the parallel, it should be borne in mind that "one’s own norm, 
the work appointed by one’s own nature” (svadharma . . . ivabhavaniyatam karma, 
BG xvin.47) corresponds exactly to that “doing of what it is by nature one’s own to 
do (to lavrov TTpaTTtLv, Kara , (jyuuiv)’’ that Plato makes his type of "justice," and 
also terms “sanity” ( Republic 433, Charmidcs 161, etc.). 

5 Whereas Plutarch (M or alia 393EF) was rather shocked by the notion of God's 
playfulness implied in Iliad xv.355-366, where Phoebus Apollo bridges a moat and 
casts down a wall, and we are told that this was child’s play for him to do. He 
thinks irreverent to say that “the God indulges in this game (muSia) constantly, 
molding ( TrXdTTwv ) the world that does not (yet) exist and undoing (djroAticuv) 
it again when it has come into being. For on the contrary, insofar as he is in some 
way present in the world, by this his presence does he bind together (crvi/Set) its 
substance and prevail over its corporal weakness, which tends towards corruption.” 
Plutarch did not see that these works of creation, preservation, and destruction are 
of the very essence of the divine operation; the life of any one creature, and finally 
of the world itself, lasting only for so long as He remains with it and until “the 
Spirit returns to God who gave it.” 

[In this citation from Plutarch ouvSec refers to the oili'Sccr/xos by which all things 
are strung together within themselves and also connected with the Sun, as the 
limbs of a puppet are strung together and attached to the manipulator’s hand. We 
cannot deal here with this aspect of the thread-spirit doctrine, except to refer to 
the “straight line like a pillar extended from above throughout Heaven and Earth," 
of which Plato says that this was the “fastening of Heaven” (ijvvSeoyiov rov ovpavov, 
Republic 6 16c), and to point out that this shaft of “light” that “comprises-and-con- 
trols the whole revolving circuit” (cf. Rum!, Mathnawi v.2345) is the traditional 
Axis Mundi (Skr. s\ambha ), properly described as a shaft of light.] 


LILA 

laborious, the playing hard; the work exhausting, but the game a recrea¬ 
tion. The best and most God-like way of living is to “play the game.” 
And before we relinquish these general considerations, it should be 
realized that in traditional societies all those actual games and per¬ 
formances that we now regard as merely secular “sports” and “shows” 
are, strictly speaking, rites, to be participated in only by initiates; and 
that under these conditions proficiency ( \ausalam ) is never a merely 
physical skill, but also a “wisdom” (crofaa, of which the basic sense is 
precisely “expertise”). And so extremes meet, work becoming play, and 
play work; to live accordingly is to have seen “action in inaction, and 
inaction in action” (BG iv.18), to have risen above the battle, and so to 
remain unaffected by the consequences of action (BU iv.4.23, Isa. Up. 5, 
BG v.7, etc.), the actions being no longer “mine” but the Lord’s (JUB 
1.5.2, BG m.15, etc.), to whom they “do not cling” (KU v.n, MU 111.2, 
BG iv.14, etc.). 

The notion of a divine “playing” occurs repeatedly in the Rg Veda. 
Out of twenty-eight occurrences of {ril, to “play” (in various senses), and 
related adjectives, we cite ix.20.7 \ridur ma\ho na manhayuh, “disport¬ 
ing, like a liberal chief, thou goest. Soma,” 1x.86.44 where “Soma, even as 
Ahi, creeping forward from his inveterated skin, flows like a prancing 
(\rilan) steed,” 0 x.3.5, where Agni’s flames are the “playful ones” {{ri■ 
lumat), and x.79.6 where, with respect to his dual operation, ab intra 
and ab extra, unmanifested and evident, Agni is described as “not play¬ 
ing, and playing” ( akrilan krilan). It is obvious that Agni is thought of as 
“playful” inasmuch as he “flares up and dies down” ( uc ca hrsyati ni ca 
hrsyati, AB m. 4), and that the designation of his tongues as the “flickcrers” 
(lelayamanah ) in Mund. Up. 1.2.4 corresponds to their designation as the 
“playful ones” in RV x.3.5. At the same time Agni is constantly spoken of 
as “licking" (rih, lih ) whatever he loves or devours; for example, “Agni 
licks at ( pari . . . rihan) his mother’s mantle (of forest trees) and . . . 
is ever licking ( rerihat sada, RV 1.140.9),” and “as with his tongue he 
uaoves, he continually licks (rerihyate) his mother” (x.4.4). 

The idea of a divine play or dalliance is fully represented in the Upani- 
sads and the Bhagavad Gita, but the word lild does not occur, and /{rid 
appears only in CU vm.12, where the incorporeal Spirit ( asarira atman) 
's thought of as “laughing, playing ( \ridan ) and taking its pleasure,” and 
MU v.i, where “the Universal Spirit {vis vat man), Universal Creator, 

6 Agni’s flames are compared to mettled horses in RV iv.6.5. 


150 


151 






MAJOR ESSAYS 

Universal Enjoyer, Universal Life” is also “the Universal Lord of sport 
and pleasure” ( visva\rldaratiprabhuh ) T in which he participates without 
being moved, being at peace with himself ( sdntatman ). 

It is clear from what has been cited above that we might as legitimately 
speak of a Soma -krida or Agni -krida or Atma -krida or Brahma-/z/i as 
we do of a Buddha -lilhd or Krsna-/z/a. The expression Buddha-/I/^d oc¬ 
curs in the Jatakas, 8 e.g., 1.54, where it is said by the gods that “it will be 
given to us to behold the Bodhisatta’s (Gautama Buddha’s) infinite 
Buddha-/zMzz and to hear his word.” The rendering of lilhd here and in 
the PTS Dictionary by “grace” is far too weak; the grace of the Buddha’s 
virtuosity ( \usalam ) is certainly implied, but the direct reference is to 
his “wonderful works”; the Buddha’s lilhd is, like Brahma’s lila, the 
manifestation of himself in act. Elsewhere in the Jatakas we find the 
word Vila, in the expression lild-vilasa (J v.5 and 157); lild-aravinda oc¬ 
curs in Vimdnavatthu Atthal{atha 43 [E. R. Gooneratne, ed., London, 1886 
(PTS)]. If, now, we had only the word lilhd to consider, the deriva¬ 
tion from lih {rih ) to “lick” 0 would suffice to confirm our view that it 
was the “playing” of Agni’s flames that from the beginning afforded a 
natural support for the notion of a divine “playing.” But while we have 
not the slightest doubt as regards the connection of ideas, it would be 
impossible to derive the equivalent lila from the same root. Did must be 
connected with lelay, “to flare” or “flicker” or “flame,” a stem that is like 
lila itself post-Vedic; and this can hardly be anything but a reduplicated 
form of li, to “cling.” A semantic development from “cling” to “play” 
would not be inconceivable if we stress the erotic senses of the Sanskrit 
words. On the other hand, as the St. Petersburg Dictionary says, lila 
has often been regarded as a corruption of krida. We shall only suggest 
that the root is actually li, but that the form of the word lila may have 
been assimilated to that of the equivalent krida. 

This brief discussion will leave us free to consider the very interesting 
uses of the verb leldy. We have already cited leldyamandh qualifying Ag¬ 
ni’s “tongues.” In Muncl. Up. 1.2.2, yadd lelayate hy arcih is “as soon as 
the point of flame burns upward.” A natural development is found in 

7 This is virtually identical with BU iv.3.13, where we are also reminded that 
“men behold his pleasuring ( aramam ), but see not Him.” 

8 I cannot trace the DhA references given by the PTS Dictionary. 

9 The PTS Dictionary makes lih mean “polish,” but this is at the most a deriva¬ 
tive sense; the primary meanings are to “lick,” and in this sense “kiss.” 

152 



LILA 

Svet. Up. hi. 18, hamso lelayate bahih, “outwardly hovers the Gander,” 
i.e., the Lord ( prabhuh ), the Person, Spirit ( atman ), Brahma as Sun- 
bird; this “hovering” being evidently another way of referring to the 
Gander’s “enjoyments” described in BU iv.3.12-14. In the same context 
(BU iv.3.7), this Spirit, Person, and Intellectual Light of the Heart, as 
he moves to and from that world and this, remaining himself ever the 
same, is said to seem now to contemplate, and now to hover or visibly 
shimmer or burn ( dhyayati ’va leldyati ’va), to be “asleep” or to be 
“awake.” It is, then, of the motion and effects of Fire, Light, and Spirit 
that leldy can be predicated. 

We must deal next with a series of texts in which the Sun, or solar 
Indra, or Saman, or Urgltha identified with the Sun or Fire, is said to 
flame aloft or overhead. In JUB 1.45.1-6, the solar Indra “born here again 
as a R$i, a maker of incantations ( mantrakrt ), for the keeping ( guptyai ) 
of the Vedas,” 10 when he comes as the Udgltha “ascends from here to 
the world of heavenly light ( ita evordhvas svar udeti) and burns over¬ 
head (upari murdhno leldyati)-, and one should know that ‘Indra hath 
come.’ ” 11 In the same way in JUB 1.51.3, the Saman, having been ex¬ 
pressed ( srstam) as the Son of Sky and Earth, “came forward there and 
stood flaming” ( lelayad atisthat). Again, in JUB 1.55, where the Sun 
(“He who burns yonder”) has been born of Being and Nonbeing, Saman 
and Rc, etc., it is said that “He burns aloft {up arts tat = upari murdhnas), 
the Saman set above.” But at first “he was unstable, it seemed {adhruva 
iva), he did not flame, it seemed ( alelayad iva), he did not burn aloft” 
{nordhvo 'tapat)} 2 Only when made firm by the gods did he burn up¬ 
wards, hitherward and crosswise (i.e., shine from the center in the six 
directions, being himself the “seventh and best ray”). What is said in 
JUB 1.45.4-6, cited above, is repeated with reference to the “Breath” 
{prana), identified with the solar Herdsman of RV 1.164.31, cf. AA 

10 It will be understood that Agni and Indra are just as much “resonances" as 
lights,” and that the “licking” of Agni’s flames is also their “crackling" or “sing¬ 
ing. The Sun himself “sings” as much as he “shines,” and this finds expression 
in the verb arc, meaning either to “sing” or to “shine,” or perhaps rather both 
m one ‘.{verbum et lux convertuntur) ; cf. Coomaraswamy, “The Sun-Kiss,” 1940, n. 12. 

1 Agamana is literally “advent”: cf. “Tathagatha.” 

Alclayat I take to be an example of the negative verb, which the sense requires 
m . present context. [Otherwise, “only flickered, and did not glow”; cf. TS 
> '' 1 ' 2 an d vii.3.10.4, “did not shine.”] With na . . . atapat, cf. SB iv.6.6.5, where also 
at ^ rst the Sun did not shine” (na ha va eso'gre tatapa). 

153 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

ii.1.6; the Breath, accordingly, upari murdhno lelayati (JUB m.37.7). 
In JUB 11.4.1, this same “Breath” is called the controlling flame-pointed 
Udgltha” (van dlptagra udgltho yat pranah.), and 11.4.3, “Verily, ‘flame- 
pointed’ becomes his renown who is a Comprehensor thereof.” 13 

Now it appears that while in divinis (adhidevatam) “overhead” will 
mean “in the sky,” with reference to a given person here below (adhy- 
dtmam) it will mean just overhead. We find accordingly in the Lalita 
Vistara (I, p. 3) that when the Buddha is in samadhi “a Ray, called the 
‘Ornament of the Light of Gnosis’ (jnandlokalankaram nama rasmih), 
proceeding from the opening in the cranial protuberance ( usnisaviva - 
rantarat), u plays above his head” ( uparistan murdhnah . . . cacara). 
This is manifestly the iconographic prescription underlying the repre¬ 
sentation of a flame that is made to rise from the top of the head in so 
many of the later Buddha figures. The Saddkarma Pundari\a [tr. H. 
Kern, Oxford, 1884] (text p. 467) asks: “By reason of what gnosis (jha- 
na) is it that the Tathagatha’s cranial protuberance ( murdhnyusnisa) 
shines (1 vibhdti )?” The answer to this is given partly above, and more 
generally in BG xiv.u: “When there is gnosis, light shines forth (pra- 
/{dsa upajayate jhanam yada) from the orifices of the body, then be it 
known that ‘Being has matured’ ” ( vrddham sattvam), i.e., that the man 
has “become what he is” [cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, “Bodily refulgence 
is natural in a glorified body ... but miraculous in a natural body,” 
Sum. Theol. 1n.45.2c]. Before going on to the last step we must make 
allusion to another well-known context in which a flame appears “over¬ 
head.” Dlpak Raga is famed as a melody that is literally an illumination 
and that may consume the singer in its flame; in the Hindi text it is said 
that “Dipak disports (keli karata — kridati), Dlpak is a king, who dis¬ 
plays the fullness of beauty, and upon whose head there shines a flickering 
flame ( bigala bijoti masta\a ujiyari) ,” 15 Now, bearing in mind that the 
Sanctus Spiritus is the “intellectual light,” Meister Eckhart’s “fiinkelin 

13 Cf. Plato, Symposium 197A, where those whom Love inspires are “beacon lights.” 

14 It is unnecessary to discuss here whether usnisa already means (as we have 
assumed) “cranial protuberance,” or still means “turban.” In either case it is from 
the top of the head that the light proceeds. A close parallel to the wording in J 
vi.376, where the deity of the royal umbrella emerges from an opening in its finial 
(chattapindikavivarato niWhamitvh). We have already pointed out that pindika 
corresponds to usnisa as “cranial protuberance” (cf. Coomaraswamy, “Some Pali 
Words,” s.v. Pindaka [in this volume —ed.]). 

15 See Coomaraswamy, “Dlpak Raga,” 1924-1925, p. 29. In some representations of 
this Raga the singer stands in a pool of water for greater safety. For Dlpak Raga 
see also Sheikh Chilli, Fol\-tales of Hindustan (Allahabad, 1913), pp. 118, 125. 

154 



LILA 

der sele,” and that Fire is the principle of Speech, 18 a remarkable parallel 
to some of the foregoing contexts can be cited from Acts 2:3-4, where 
the Spirit appears to the Apostles in the form of “cloven tongues of fire 
and it sat upon each of them. And they . . . began to speak with other 
tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” 

We have been able to trace, accordingly, not only the continuity and 
universality of the notion of the divine activity thought of as a kind of 
game and dalliance, but also to recognize in the “play” of a flickering 
flame or vibrant light the adequate symbol of this epiphany of the Spirit. 

16 [“Fire, becoming speech, occupied the mouth” (agnir vag bhutvd mupham pra- 
visat, AA 11.4.2), "abiding in beings as Speech in the speaker” (AV 11.1.4). It is true 
that all the powers of the soul (pranah) are “measures of fire,” nevertheless, when¬ 
ever the correspondences arc particularized, Speech corresponds to Fire, Vision to 
the Sun, etc. (e.g. SB x.3.3.8).] 


155 





PLAY AND SERIOUSNESS 



Play and Seriousness 


Dr. Kurt Riezler’s valuable discussion under this heading in the Journal 
of Philosophy , XXXVIII (194T), 505-5x7, and my own “Lila," deal with 
complementary aspects of the notion of playful activity; the points of 
view converge and meet in the citation from Heracleitus made by both 
authors [see p. 1480— ed.]. 

Dr. Riezler’s interest lies mainly in the distinction of (mere) play from 
(real) seriousness; mine in the indistinction of play and work on a higher 
level of reference. In the sense that the divine part of us, our real Self, 
or “Soul of the soul” is the impassible spectator of the fates that are 
undergone by its psychophysical vehicles (MU 11.7, 111.2, etc.), it is clearly 
not “interested” or involved in these fates, and does not take them seri¬ 
ously; just as any other playgoer does not take the fates of the stage 
characters seriously, or if he does can hardly be said to be looking on at 
the play, but is involved in it. It is surely with reference to this best part 
of us, with which we identify ourselves if we “know who we are,” that 
Plato says more than once that “human affairs ought not to be taken 
very seriously” (/xeyaXijs piv o-srovSrjs ovk a£ca, Laws 803BC, cf. Apology 
23.4), and that we are asked to “take no thought for the morrow” (Matt. 
6 = 34 )- 

We must not confuse such a lack of “interest” with what we mean by 
“apathy” and the inertia that we suppose must be the consequence of 
such an ataraxia. All that “apathy” really implies is, of course, an in¬ 
dependence of pleasure-pain motivation; it does not exclude the notion 
of an activity Kara tfsvatv, but only that of an activity compelled by 
conditions not of our own choosing. Apathy is spiritual equipoise and a 
freedom from sentimentality. We are still aware that a disinterested 
statesman will make a better ruler than one who has “interests” of his 
own to be furthered; “tyranny is monarchy ruling in the interest of the 
monarch” (Aristotle, Politics 111.5). The good actor is one for whom “the 

[First published in /ournal of Philosophy, XXXIX (1942), 550-52.— ed.] 

156 



play’s the thing,” not one who sees in it an opportunity to exhibit him¬ 
self. The physician calls in another medical man to operate on a member 
of his family, just because the stranger will be less “interested” in the fate 
of his wife or child and therefore better able to play his game with 
death. “It is contrary to the nature of the arts to seek the good of any¬ 
thing but their object" (Plato, Republic 342BC). 

Games are insignificant to us. But that is abnormal; and if we are to 
consider play and seriousness from a more universally human point of 
view we must remember that “games”—and this covers the whole circus 
of athletic contests, acrobatic and theatrical performances, jugglery, chess, 
gambling, and most of the organized games of children and the folk, 
all in fact that is not merely the artless gamboling of lambs 1 —are not 
“merely” physical exercises, spectacles, or amusements, or merely of hygi¬ 
enic or aesthetic value, but metaphysically significant. Plato asks, “Are 
we to live always at play? and if so, at what sort of games?” and answers, 
“such as sacrifices, chanting, and dancing, by which we can win the favor 
of the gods and overcome our foes” ( Laws 803DE). Ludus underlies our 
word “ludicrous”; but in the Latin Dictionary (Harper) we find “Ludi, 
public games, plays, spectacles, shows, exhibitions, which were given in 
honor of the gods, etc.” 

Although, then, in a game there is nothing to be gained except “the 
pleasure that perfects the operation," and the understanding of what is 
properly a rite, we do not therefore play carelessly, but rather as if our 
life depended upon victory. Play implies order; of a man who ignores 
the rules (as he may be tempted to do if the result is to him the matter 
of primary importance) we say that he is “not playing the game”; if we 
are so much in earnest, so much “interested” in the stakes, as to “hit 
below the belt,” that is not duelling, but nearer to attempted murder. 
It is true that by not cheating we may lose: but the whole point of the 
game is that we are not playing only to win, but playing a part, de¬ 
termined by our own nature, and that our only concern is to play well, 
regardless of the result, which we can not foresee. “Mastery is of action 
only, not of its fruits; so neither let the fruit of action be thy motive, nor 
hesitate to act” (BG 11.47). “Battles are lost in the same spirit in which 
they are won” (Whitman); victory depends on many factors beyond 

1 Cf. Otto Ranke, Art and Artist, New York, 1932, ch. 10, “Game and Destiny,” 
and Coomaraswamy, “The Symbolism of Archery,” 1943. 

157 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

our control, and we ought not to be concerned about what we are not 
responsible for. 

The activity of God is called a “game” precisely because it is assumed 
that he has no ends of his own to serve; it is in the same sense that our 
life can be “played,” and that insofar as the best part of us is in it, but 
not of it, our life becomes a game. At this point we no longer distinguish 
play from work. 


158 




Measures of Fire 


The Fire is the principle of every life. 

Jacob Boehme, Signature return xiv.29 


In a recent thesis, 1 Dr. William C. Kirk has fulfilled his immediate 
purpose, which was to discover, as far as that is possible, what was actu¬ 
ally said by Heracleitus on Fire. We do not propose to review this bro¬ 
chure, which is fully documented and well constructed. It is rather the 
restricted purpose of historical scholarship itself that we wish to criticize. 
We must, indeed, know what has been said: but of what use will such 
knowledge be to us, unless we consider the meaning of what was said 
and can apply this meaning to our own experience? Here Dr. Kirk has 
little more to say than is contained in the significant words, “Heracleitus 
is one of the Greek philosophers who sought to explain the whole uni¬ 
verse in terms of some one basic entity. . . . After his time, to be sure, 
fire decreased in importance, and men ceased to look for one principle 2 
that would explain all phenomena.” This is a confession that men have 
fallen to the level of that empiricism of which Plato was so contemptu¬ 
ous, and to that of those Greeks whom Plutarch ridiculed because they 
could no longer distinguish Apollo from Helios, the reality (to ov) from 
the phenomenon, “so much has their sense perception (aio-0ijo-is) per¬ 
verted their power of discrimination (hiavoia) .” s It is, however, only 
partially true that “the importance of fire has decreased,” and only some 
men have abandoned the search for “one principle.” 

Dr. Kirk sees that Heracleitus must have had forerunners, but scarcely 


[This essay was first published in O Institute), C (1942), Coimbra, Portugal.— ED.] 

1 Fire in the Cosmological Speculations of Heracleitus (Minneapolis, 1940). 

2 “One principle” . . . "that One by which, when it is known, all things are 
known” (BU 11.4.5). 

3 Plutarch, Moralia 393D, 400CD. Cf. Plato, Laws 898D, “The body of Helios is seen 
by all, his soul by none,” and AV x.8.14, “Him (the Sun) all men see, not all know 
with the mind.” “Apollo” is Philo’s 6 yotyros JJAios- [Note Victor Magnien, Les 
Mysteres d'tleusis (Paris, 1929), p. 143.] 

159 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

realizes that he may not have been a philosopher in the modern sense, 
but rather one in the highest ancient sense, according to which the 
veritable teacher is one who understands and transmits a doctrine of im¬ 
memorial antiquity and anonymous divine origin. 4 He does say that 
Heracleitus speaks as one who propounds an obvious and generally ac¬ 
cepted truth, not as one who argues for a personal opinion. What re¬ 
mains of Heracleitus is, indeed, unquestionably “orthodox,” i.e., in ac¬ 
cordance with the Philosophia Perennis (et Universalis), of which the 
teachings are always and everywhere the same. 

The conception of a transcendent and universal Fire, of which our 
fires are only pale reflections, survives in the words “empyrean” and 
“ether”; the latter word derives from aW<o, to “kindle” (Skr. indh) and 
it is, incidentally, not without interest that Blake’s “tiger burning bright” 
echoes the aWa>v€<s Orjpes of the Greeks, who thus referred to the horse, 
the lion, and the eagle; the Rg Veda (11.34.5) speaks of “blazing (indhan- 
van = aWcuv) kine.” For Aeschylus, Zeus icrriv aW-qp (Fr . 65A; cf. 
Virgil, Georgies 11.325); in the Old Testament (Deut. 4:24) and for St. 
Paul (Heb. 12:29), Noster Deus ignis (trvp) consumens esf, and the 
epiphany of the Spirit is as “tongues of fire” (Acts 2:3, 4).° Agni (ignis. 
Fire) is one of the principal, and perhaps the chief of the names of God 
in the Rg Veda. Indra is “metaphysically Indha' 1 (aWcov), a “Kindler,” 
for he “kindles” ( inddha ) the Breaths or Spirations ( pranah , SB vi.1.1.2). 8 
The solar Gander ( hamsa ), “on seeing whom one sees the All,” is a “blaz¬ 
ing Fire” (tejas-endham, MU vi.35), and spoken of as “flaming” ( lelayati, 
BU iv.3.7), like Agni’s tongues (lalayamdnah in Mund. Up. 1.2.4). The 
Buddha, who can be regarded as a humanized type of Agni or Indrag- 

i The Buddha, for example, proclaims that he “has followed the ancient path” 
(S 11.106), and says that “Whoever pretends that I preach a doctrine wrought by 
my own reasoning and argumentation shall be cast out” (M t.77); [“the Source 
of a hundred streams ( bhutanam garbham)," RV 111.26.9]. 

5 The connection of the tongues of fire and the speaking with tongues is not 
fortuitous, but depends on the doctrine that Fire (Agni) is the principle of Speech 
(Vac); to which she is reduced when freed from her natural mortality (BU 1.3.8, 
etc.; for the mortality of all the functional powers, cf. JUB iv.19); Agni, like 
Plato’s 8 a.lp.osv, “cares for nothing but the Truth,” being satyavacah (RV 111.26.9, 
vn.2.3). Cf. SB x.3.3.1, “What becomes of one who knows that Fire? He becomes 
eloquent, speech does not fail him.” See Rene Guenon, “Le Don des langues,” 
Etudes traditionnelles, xliv (1939). [The Rsis (Sages) are described as sacrifices 
and singers “born hither again for the keeping of the Vedas” (JUB 1.45.2).] 

0 [For Indra-Agni as twins see RV vi.59.2, x.8.7. For the fullest account of the 
Rsis as “Breaths," the maruts as “Storms,” see SB vi.1.1.6 and JUB 1.45.1-6; iv.12.6.] 


MEASURES OF FIRE 

n iJ is “a master of the element of fire” ( tejo-dhatum-\usalo, Vin 1.25) 
which he can assume at will, and he is represented iconographically not 
only as a Tree but also as a Pillar of Fire. 8 Meister Eckhart can still speak 
of “the motionless heaven, called fire or the empyrean” and say that the 
nectar (die zuezeheit = ambrosia, amrta, “honey,” “water of life’ ’) is 
withheld from all who do not reach “that fiery heavenly intelligence.” 0 

Let us now consider the Indian doctrine of “Measures of Fire.” I use 
capitals here and in the many contexts where it is the God, and not the 
natural phenomenon in which He manifests Himself, that is referred 
to. 10 We must first explain that while Skr. agni is literally ignis, “fire,” 
the word tejas, which we shall have to cite repeatedly, is strictly speaking 
not so much the fire itself as an, or the most, essential quality of “fire,” 
whether as deity or natural phenomenon. Tejas (V tip to be sharp, cf. 
err lifts, o-Ti-ypa, di-stinguo, in-stig-o, stick, stake, stitch), is, as nearly as pos¬ 
sible, what Jacob Boehme calls the “sharpness of the fire-flash” (Three 
Principles xiv.69). In RV vi.3.5, Agni is said to whet his tejas like a point 
of iron. The corresponding adjective tigma commonly qualifies socis, 
“flame,” and Agni himself is tigma-socis, “of sharp flame.” The word 
tejas is usually and rightly, however, translated by “fire” 11 or “fiery 
energy,” the essential quality standing for the essence, the characteristic 
act for the agent; just as the Blast (vayu) of the Spirit (atmanj is noth¬ 
ing but the Spirit itself in terms of its characteristic activity. At the same 

7 Indragni, like Mitravarunau, is the mixta persona of the Sacerdotum (Agni be¬ 
ing the brahma) and the Regnum (Indra, the ksetra) in divinis. Thus “Indra is 
Agni as Supreme Overlord,” Sayana on RV v.3.2, cf. v.3.1; also AB 111.4, iv.22, and 
BD 1 . 68 . Names are given according to the aspect under which God is considered 
(RV v.44.6); [ brahma sat \satram ucyatc, “even as he seemeth so he is called,” 
AV x.2.23]. 

8 Cf. Coomaraswamy, Elements of Buddhist Iconography, 1935, PI. II; also Exod. 

13:21. 

9 Meister Eckhart, Pfeiffer ed., pp. 214 ff. 

10 The customary designation of the early Greek and Indian philosophies as 
naturalistic" is a betrayal of the truth ["physical” in Greek had not this meaning.] 

A philosophical “development” from naturalism to abstraction, coincident with an 
aesthetic development from abstraction 10 naturalism, would have been strange in¬ 
deed. It is we, for whom “such knowledge as is not empirical is meaningless,” who 
tail to distinguish the adequate natural symbol from its reference, we who see 
the pointing finger rather than the moon itself. 

11 Cf. J. Ph. Vogel, “Het Sanskrit Woord Tejas (= Gloed, Vuur) in de Beteekcnis 
'an Magische Kracht," Med. d.\.ak.v. Wctenschappen, aid. Letterhunde, Deel 70, 
Sene B, No. 4 (1930). 


160 


161 







MAJOR ESSAYS 


time it must be understood that neither agni nor tejas imply a heat as dis¬ 
tinguished from a light; tejas, for example, is not merely a "sharpness” 
but also a "brilliance” as of lightning, hence the correlation “Fire and 
what can be illuminated” ( tejas ca vidyotayitavyam ca, Prasna Up. iv.8 12 ). 
In Fr. 77 Heracleitus himself substitutes $dos for the -trap of Fr. 20, the 
verbs remaining unchanged. Since wc have made him our starting point, 
and since it would be awkward to repeat Boehme’s “sharpness of the 
fire-flash,” we shall adhere to the customary rendering of tejas by “fire” 
or “Fire.” 

Now, “Of the Fire (tejas) that is hidden within the Sky, 13 it is but a 
little measure (amsa-matram) that (glows) in the midst of the Sun, in 
the eye and in fire. That (Fire) is Brahma, Immortal. 11 ... It is but a 
little measure (amsa-matram) of that Fire that is the ambrosia (amrtam) 
in the midst of the Sun, whose growing shoots (apayan{urah) are Soma 
and the Breaths” ( prdndh , MU vi.35). 15 And so, indeed, just as sparks 

12 "It is as the Breath (prana) that Agni shines” (dipyate, JUB iv.12.6); "I am 
the flash in what is luminous (tejas . . . vibhava vasau) ... the splendor of the 
splendid" ( tejas tejasvinam , BG vn.9, to). [Agni is the tejas wherewith they slew 
Vftra (SB n.5.4.3, 8), Agni is the tejas of the Sacrifice (SB v.3.5.7-8) and the im¬ 
mortal in the mortal (AV xn.2.33).] 

13 1 .e., is vTTtpovpdviot (cf. Plato, Phaedrus 247c); beyond the Sky ( uttaram divah, 
AV x.7.3; parena divam, Ait. Up. 1.2; pare-ardhe, RV 1.164.10); in the empyrean 
as distinguished from the celestial or Olympian paradise. 

14 The immortal, fiery (tejomayam) Brahma, the Spirit (atman) of BU 11.5.1 ff.; 
[see Coomaraswamy, “The Sun-kiss," 1940, especially n. 15.] 

15 The functional powers are called Spirations, Lives, or Breaths after the central 
Spiration, Life, or Breath of which they are participations and on which they de¬ 
pend (BU 1.5.21, CU v.1.15); and “Indra’s energies” (indriyani) with reference to 
Indra, identified with the central Breath; and by other names, e.g. “Elemental Beings" 
(bhutani) with reference to the "Great Being" (mahabhutah) from which their 
being stems. The passible Ego or "Elemental Self” ( bhutatman , MU 111.2) is ac¬ 
cordingly a “host of beings” (bhiitagana, MU 111.3) and, in fact, the “Marut host” 
( marudgana ), for “the Maruts are the Breaths” (,AB 111.16), as they are also “Fires” 
(agnayah, RV 111.26.4). The true relation of these Breaths or Storms (our “stormy 
passions”) to their Head is that of subjects to a king, loyal unto death; but if they 
are allowed to run wild in pursuit of their natural objects, serving themselves and not 
their king, “we” are distracted by this body of fallen Angels within us. Self-integra¬ 
tion is a matter of orientation. That is, in brief, “Indian psychology.” 

The assimilation of the Breaths to (Soma-) shoots, implied in our text, is of 
very great significance for the exegesis of the Soma-sacrifice, but needs more 
space than can be devoted to it here. 

The Commentators read apyayankurah and emend to apyankurahi , i.e., apt 
anburah. In order to avoid any emendation we have assumed a reading apyayanku- 
rah, i.e., apyai-ankurah , which is not impossible and gives an appropriate meaning; 
cf. SB vn.3.1.45 [and AA 1.4.1]. 


162 


MEASURES OF FIRE 


disperse in all directons from a blazing fire, so from this Prescient Spirit 
(prajnatman, the ultimate and solar Self) the Breaths and other sub¬ 
stances disperse to their stations” (BU 11.1.3, Kaus. Up. 111.3, iv.20, Mund. 
Up. 11.1.1, MU vi.26, 31, with negligible variants), and it is from this point 
of view that Brahma is compared to a “sparkling fiery wheel” (MU 
vi.24). Now “these functional powers (indriyani — prdndh) are of the 
Spirit (dtma\ani), it is the Spirit (atman) that proceeds (in them) and 
that controls them” (MU vi.31); 16 they are the solar rays or reins 17 
(rasmayah) by which the Only Seer and Thinker sees, hears, thinks and 
eats within us (MU 11.6, vi.31, BU m.7.23, JUB 1.29, 30, etc.), being ac¬ 
cordingly the “Only Samsarin” (BrSBh 1.1.5). Thus these active powers 
of speech, vision, thought, etc. “are only the names of His acts,” of the 
forces that he puts forth and again absorbs (BU 1.4.7, 1.5.21, 1.6.3, etc.). 
In their operation in ourselves all these Breaths or Lives act together, so 
that we are able to refer to, see, hear, and think of one and the same 
object simultaneously (Kaus. Up. 111.2; cf. 1 Cor. 12:14(1.). 

Now He, the Spirit (atman), Brahma, Prajapati, the Immortal, who 
in us assumes the appearances (rupani) of speech, vision, mind, etc. 
(these being, as we have seen, the names of His acts, not “ours”), is him¬ 
self “of the substance of fire” (tejo-mayam, BU 11.5.1—15); he “divides 
himself” (dtmdnam vibhajya) to quicken his children (MU 11.6), himself 
remaining “undivided amongst the divisions” (BG xvinao).’* Again, the 
act of “creation,” or rather “expression” (srstih), is typically thought of 
as a “determination” or “measuring out” (nirmanam) , ia the Measurer 
who is himself the measure of all things remaining “unmeasured amongst 
the measured” (AV x.7.39). It follows from this that His divisions, the 


18 [“In me I take first Agni” (TS v.7.9); “let the fires of the sacred hearths 
(atma) again officiate just here in their respective stations ( yathasthama )” (AV 
v, i.67). Indriyagnayah are the senses sacrificed into the fire of restraint, i.e., tesu 
paroksatn juhoti, the individual’s Internal Agnihotra (BG iv.26, 27); “when the 
Comprehensor controls the mind and the Breath has put the objects of the senses 
in their place” (MU vi.19); also, “the fires (tejas) of the senses wear away. . . . 
Thine alone is the chariot, the dance and the chant” (KU 1.26).] 

' The metaphor of the chariot, common to Plato and our Indian sources, is here 
involved. In MU ir.6, Prajapati is the driver of the bodily vehicle, controlling the 
steed (the sensitive powers) by the “rays” or “reins” (rasmayah) that extend from 
■s station in the heart to the objects of sense perception; cf. Plato, Laws 898c, 
'frxn P-tv iaTiv tj —epidyovtra i/plv ndvTa, and Hermes, Lib. x.22, koj. tov piv Oeov 
Kadavep dxTtves at evepyeiai, and xvi.7, dcrl Si xal fjviai (Uvtov oner tves). 

Cf. Plotinus, iv.i.i. 

Cf. Coomaraswamy, “Nirmana-baya," 1938, cidng RV m_29.11, etc., where 
Agni is “measured out.” 


163 







MAJOR ESSAYS 

aforesaid faculties (or “intelligencies,” jndnani, KU vi.io, MU vi.30; 
pra\nd-ma.trah, Kaus. Up. 111.8; buddhindriyani, MU 11.6) 20 must be 
“Measures ( matrah) 21 of Fire.” It is, in fact, as “Fires” ( agnayah , SB 
x.3.3.1 ff.), as the “Fires of the Breaths” (prdndgnayah, Prasna Up. iv.3) 
and as “Measures of Fire” ( tejo-matrah , BU iv.4.1, Prasna Up. iv.8) that 
these active hypostases of the Spirit are actually referred to. 

We have shown, then, that the elementals of the active life are “Meas¬ 
ures of Fire,” and that being mortal in themselves they proceed from 
and again return to the immortal fiery Breath of the Total Presence 
within us. It is just this Indian and universal doctrine that Heracleitus 
(Fr. 20 ) enunciates: “kou pop ropSe top avrop dnapTiav ovre tis 6 ed>p ovre 
dvdpihrrcop iiroir]<T£v, a\\' tfp del Kal eerrip koX ccrrat • rrvp aei^oiop, o.ttt6 - 
pepop per pa Kal dirocrfieppvpepop per pa.” “That Kosmos, the identity of 
all things, no one of gods or men hath ever wrought, but it ever was, 
and is and ever shall be everliving Fire, in measures being kindled and 
in measures dying out.” 22 

Very many others of Heracleitus’ dicta are in the same way enuncia¬ 
tions of doctrines that are both Indian and universal. 23 That “The Thun¬ 
derbolt (Kepawd? = vajra) governs all things” (Fr. 28), for example, 
states the doctrine of the Axis Mundi. 24 In drawing parallels, it has been 
very far from my intention to suggest that the philosophies of Hera- 

20 The Breaths as “Intelligencies” are the “gods within you” of JUB 1 . 14 . 1 , 2 , 
and the “angels” of Christian theology; their Duke ( nctr ), rex angclorum, devandm 
raja, Indra (Vayu). 

21 Mittrd (like perpov) is etymologically “matter,” not in the sense of “that 
which is solid,” but in the proper sense of "that which is quantitative” and has a 
position in the world ( loka-locus ). Whatever is thus in the world can be named 
and perceived ( nama-rupa ) and is accessible to a physical and statistical science; 
the unmeasured being the proper domain of metaphysics. 

22 “That Kosmos” evidently being the vm 71-01 koV/ios = vot/tos (jAtos, the un¬ 
created Brahma-world” of CU VIU.T3.1, the “world-picture” (“painted by the Spirit 
on the canvas of the Spirit,” Sankaracarya. Atmanirupanam 95); the pattern 
of the sensible world. “It knows only itself, that ‘I am Brahma’; thereby it becomes 
the All” (BU 1.4.X0). “Sicut erat in principio, est nunc et semper erit,” because for 
Brahma there is neither past nor future but only the eternal now. 

23 So that, as Heracleitus also says (Fr. 77 ), dvdponror okws ev iveppovt] 4>aos ; 
otttstcu 6.vroa/3evmTai “Man, like a light in the night, is kindled and extinguished.” 
(diro) afiewvpi is to be despirated; of wind, to die down; of fire, to go out; of 
passion, to be stilled. These are precisely the senses of Skr. nirva. Pali nibbayati 
(also to be finished, be perfected). The samadhi of the Breaths is their nirvana 
and their i-cAeur?;. 

24 Skr. skambha, sthuna, yitpa, etc., Christian stauros, Islamic qutb, etc. 

164 



MEASURES OF FIRE 

deitus or Plato are derived from Indian or other Oriental sources. 25 No 
culture, people, or age can lay claim to any private property in the Philoso- 
phia Perennis. All that I have tried to show is that the axioms of this 
philosophy, by whomsoever enunciated, can often be explained and clari¬ 
fied or emphasized by a correlation with the parallel texts of other tradi¬ 
tions. And finally, I can only say of Heracleitus, with Socrates, that “What 
I understand of him is excellent, and what I do not [yet] understand is 
also excellent.” 

25 For example, it does not seem to be necessary to derive the “negative theology” 
of Plodnus from Indian sources, as Emile Brehier wishes to do (La Philosophic dc 
Plolin, Paris, 1928 , pp. 107 - 133 ). It is quite true that a negative theology is fully 
developed in the Indian sources and that in MU vi .30 both vine, affirmativa and 
negativa, are commended and are to be followed in their logical sequence. But it 
would be far simpler to think of Plotinus as dependent on such Platonic sources as 
Phacdrus 247 c, “The region above the sky was never worthily sung by any earthly 
poet, nor will it ever be . . . For the colorless, formless and intangible . . . ,” 
and Epistle vu, 341 D, where Plato says that the subject of his most serious study 
(i.e., the ultimate nature of deity) “does not at all admit of verbal expression like 
other studies." 


165 





VEDIC “MONOTHEISM' 



Vedic “Monotheism” 


One only Fire is kindled manifold, one only Sun is present tc 
one and all, one only Dawn illuminates this all: that which 
is only One becomes this all. 

Rg Veda vm.58.2 


Modern scholarship for the most part postulates only a gradual develop¬ 
ment in Indian metaphysics of a notion of a single principle, of which 
principle the several gods {devah, vi'sve devah, etc.) are, as it were, the 
powers, operative aspects, or personified attributes. But as Yaska expresses 
it, “It is because of His great divisibility ( mahd-bhagydt) that they apply 
many names to Him, one after another. . . . The other gods {devah) 
come to be {bhavanti) submembers {pratyangdni) of the One Spirit 
{e\asyatmanah) . . . their becoming is a birth from one another, they 
are of one another’s nature; they originate in function ({arma); 1 the 
Spirit is their origin . . . Spirit {dtman) is the whole of what a God is” 
{Nirukta vn.4). Similarly, BD 1.70-74: “Because of the magnitude of the 
Spirit (mahdtmydt) a diversity of names is given {vidhiyate) . . , 2 ac- 

[This essay was first published in the Dr. S. Krishnaswami A iyan gar Commemora¬ 
tion Volume (Madras, 1936), and revised for the Journal oj Indian History, XV 
(1936). The second version, with the author's further revisions and addenda, is 
printed here.— ed.] 

J It is, in fact, Visvakarma, the Doer of All Things, that gives their “names,” 
that is to say, their individual being, to the gods, and is therefore called divanam 
namadhdh, x.82.3. [The functions are “merely the names of Brahma’s acts,” BU 
1.4.7; “all functionings arise from the Spirit," ibid. 1.6.3; “all action stems from 
Brahma,” BG in.5; cf. Meister Eckhart, Evans ed., II, 175]. 

2 [Almost verbally identical with Jan van Ruysbroeck, “because of his incom¬ 
prehensible nobility and sublimity, which we cannot rightly • name nor wholly 
express, we give Him all these names,” Adornment oj the Spiritual Marriage, XXV. 
“For I deem it impossible that He who is the maker of the universe in all its 
greatness, the Father or Master of all things, can be named by a single name; 

I hold that He is nameless, or rather, that all names are names of Him. For He 
in his unity is all things; so that we must cither call all things by his name, or call 
him by the name of all things,” Hermes, Asclepius 111.2OA. 

“He alone has the spirit of Christ who has changed his forms and his names 

16 6 


cording to the distribution of their spheres {sthanavibhagena). It is in¬ 
asmuch as they are ‘differentiations,’ ‘presences’ ( vibhutih), 3 that the names 
are innumerable. But the shapers {kavayah) in their incantations {man- 
tresu) say that the godhoods ( devatds ) have a common source; they are 
called by different names according to the spheres in which they are 
established. 4 Some say that they are participants therein {tad bhaktah), 
and that such is their derivation; but as regards the aforesaid Trinity of 
world-rulers, it is well understood that the whole of their participation 
{bhaktih) is in the Spirit {at man)."'" 

from the beginning of the world and so reappeared again and again in the world” 
(Clement, Clementine Homilies m.20, cf. BG iv.8, sambhav'ami yuge yugc). 
“Each angelical prince is a property out of the voice of God, and bears the great 
name of 'God'” (Jacob Boehme, Signature rerum xvi.5). Cf. JUB m.i, where the 
Gale of the Spirit {v'ayu) is called “the one entire godhood” {e\a . . . kftsnd 
devatd), the rest are “semigodhoods.”] 

3 [“The Gale is omnipresent {vayur d\asam anuvibhavati)," JUB iv.12.10; and 
so, as Krishna says, 'There is no end to my divine presences” {nanto'sti mama 
divyanam vibhutinam, BG x.40). It is to these “presences" or "powers” that the 
many names are given.] 

4 [Cf. PB xx.15.2-2 where the spheres of action of Agni, Viiyu and Aditya are 
called their “lots” or “shares” {bhaktih).} 

5 An ontology of this kind is not properly to be called pantheistic or monistic. 
This would only be legitimate if, when the essence has been analyzed into its 
many aspects, there were no remainder; on the contrary, the whole of Indian 
scripture, beginning with the Rg Veda, consistently affirms that what remains ex¬ 
ceeds the whole of that which suffices to fill up these worlds, and that the source 
remains unaffected by whatever is produced from it or returned to it at the be¬ 
ginning or end of an aeon. The view that all this is a theophany does not mean 
that all of Him is seen; on the contrary, “only a quarter,” so to speak, of his 
abundance (RV x.90.3, cf. MU vi.35, BG x.42) suffices to fill up the worlds of time 
and space, however far they may extend, however long they may endure. 

Cf. Whitby in the preface to the English version of Rene Guenon, L'Hommc et 
son devenir selon le vedanla (Paris, 1925): “It is to be hoped that this book will 
give the coup de grace to the absurd and well-nigh unaccountable prejudice which 
persistendy depreciates the Vedic doctrine on account of its alleged ‘pantheism.’ 
This parrot-cry . . and Lacombc, in the preface to Rene Grousset, Les Philoso¬ 
phies indiennes (Paris, 1931) “II ne faut pas conclure, a notre avis, que le Vedanta 
soit pantheistc, ou meme moniste, surtout au sens que ces mots ont chez nous. II 
se nomme lui-meme advaita, non-dualiste. Sa preoccupation d’assurer la iran- 
scendance de Brahman non moins que son immanence, de maintenir l’interiorite 
de son Gloire, est manifeste. Position irreductible . . .”; and Coomaraswamy, 
A New Approach to the Vedas: An Essay in Translation and Exegesis, 1933, p. 42. 

It may be added that similar objection can be made to the word “Monotheism” 
>n the title of the present essay. Tad e\am in RV x.129.2 is much rather “Supreme 
Identity” than “only God.” It is as “only God,” with aspects as many as the points 
of view from which He is regarded, that ‘That One” becomes intelligible; but 

167 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

The foregoing passages illustrate the normal method of theology in any 
discussion de divinis nominibus , when a recognition of the various opera¬ 
tions of a single principle gives rise to the superficial appearance of a 
polytheism. In Christianity, for example, “we do not say the only God, 
for deity is common to several” (Sum. Theol. 1.31.2c); still, “To create 
beings belongs to God according to His own being, that is His essence, 
which is common to the three Persons. Hence to create is not peculiar 
to any one Person, but is common to the whole Trinity” (Sum. Theol. 
1.45.6c); and it is well understood that “Although the names of God 
have one common reference, still because the reference is made under 
many and different aspects, these names are not synonymous. . . . The 
many aspects of these names are not empty and vain, for there corresponds 
to all of them one single reality represented by them in a manifold and 
imperfect manner” (Sum. Theol. 1.13A ad 2).® [Cf. Sayana on SB 1.6.1.20: 
Prajapati is inexplicit because He is essentially all the gods and hence it 
cannot be said of Him that “He is this or that” (ayam asdviti) but only 
that “He is.” And also Hermes Trismegistos: “Are we to say that it is 
right that the name of ‘God’ ( 0 eos, deva) should be assigned to Him, 
or that of Maker (tronjTrj?, \dvya ) or that of Father ( narep , pitr, Pra¬ 
japati) ? Nay, all three names are His; He is rightly named ‘God’ by 
reason of His power, and ‘Maker’ by reason of the work He does, and 
Father by reason of His goodness,” Lib. xiv.4.] In the same way, Plotinus: 
“This life of the ensouled stars is one identical thing, since they are one 
in the All-Soul, so that their very spatial movement is pivoted upon iden¬ 
tity and resolves itself into a movement not spatial but vital,” Enneads 
iv.4.8. 

That these conceptions of the identity of the First Principle with all 
its powers are current in the Brahmanas and the Atharva Veda is well 


what That One may be in itself can only be expressed in terms of negation, for 
example, “without duality.” See Erwin Goodenough, An Introduction to Philo 
Judaeus (New Haven, 1940), p. 105. 

6 [In “dividing Himself (atmanam vibhajya) to fill these worlds” (MU vi.26, 
etc.), He remains “undivided in these divisions” (avtbhakta vibhaktesu, BG xvm.20, 
cf. xui. 16), “unmeasured, i.e., im-material, amongst the measured” (vimite'mita, 
AV x.7.39; amatra, BU m.8.8, etc.); the immanent gods, the Spiradons ( pranah ), 
are “measures of Fire” ( tejo-matrah , BU iv.4.1), viz. “the ever-lasting Fire, in 
measures being kindled and in measures dying out” (Heracleitus, Fr. 30). “In 
other words, there are not in Him many existences, but only one sole existence, 
and his various names and attributes are merely his modes and aspects” (JamI, 
Lawa'ih xv).] 


VEDIC “MONOTHEISM” 

known. There may be cited, for example, SB x.5.2.16, "As to this they say, 
‘Is then Death one or many?’ One should answer, ‘One and many.’ For, 
inasmuch as He is That (Person in the Sun), He is one; and inasmuch as 
He is multiply distributed (bahudha vyavistih) in His children, He is 
many,” to be read together with verse 20: “As He is approached, even such 
He becomes (yathopasate tad eva bhavati )”; 7 and AV vm.9.26, “One Bull, 
one Prophet, one Home, a single Ordinance, one simplex Yaksa in His 
ground, one Season that is never emptied out”; and AV 1.12.1, where Agni 
is described as “One energy whose procession is threefold (ekam ojas 
tredha vica\rame)." 

It is more often overlooked that the same point of view is so explicit¬ 
ly and repeatedly affirmed in the Rg Veda as to leave no room for 
any misunderstanding. A full discussion of the Vedic formulation of the 
problem of the one and the many would require an extended study of 
Vedic exemplarism (see Coomaraswamy, “Vedic Exemplarism” [in the 
present volume— ed.]), but we may call attention to the expression vi'svam 
e\am, “integral multiplicity,” in RV 111.54.8. All that we propose now is 
to assemble some of the most conspicuous of the Vedic texts in which the 
identity of the one and the many is categorically affirmed; adding that, 
even were.none of these explicit statements available, the law expressed 
in them could have been independently deduced from an analysis 
of the functions attributed to the various powers, for although these func¬ 
tions are characteristic of particular deities, they are never entirely peculiar 
to any one of them. 8 

7 [E.g., AB 111.4, “In that one resorts to ( upasate) Him as one to be made a friend 
of (mitrakrtyaiva) , that is his form as the Friend (mitra)." In the Kailayamalai, 
Siva is addressed as “Thou that take the forms imagined by thy worshippers” (see 
Ceylon National Review, January 1907, p. 285).] 

8 Max Muller invented the term “henotheism” to describe this method, which he 
apparendy imagined to have been peculiar to the Vedas. Christianity, as a matter of 
fact, is “hcnotheistic” in so far as it affirms that whatever is done by one of the Per¬ 
sons is done by all, and vice versa. A fully developed “henotheism” is even more 
characteristic of Stoicism and of Philo, cf. Emile Brehier, Les Idees philosophiques 
et religieuses de Philon d'Alexandrie (Paris, 1925), pp. 112, 113: “La conception de 
dieux myrionymes, d’un dieu unique auquel sous ses differentes formes s’addres- 
sent les prieres des inities etait familiere au stoi’eisme . . . de meme que dans les 
hymnes orphiques, la toutepuissance de chaque Dieu n’empeche pas leur hierarchie, de 
tneme ici [that is, according to Philo] les etres sont classes bien souvent hierarchique- 
®ent comme s’il s’agissait d’etres distincts.” [And Plorinus, v.8.9, “He and all have 
one existence, while each again is distinct. It is distinction by state without interval: 
there is no outward form to set one here and another there and to prevent any from 
being an entire identity; yet there is no sharing of parts from one to another. Nor 




168 


169 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

Familiar passages, often dismissed as “late,” include RV 1.164.46: “The 
priests refer in many different ways ( bahudhd vadanti) to That that 
is but one, they call Him Agni, Yama, Matarisvan: they call Him Indra, 
Mitra, Varuna, Agni, who is the heavenly eagle ( suparna ) Garutman”; 
RV x.114.5, “Ecstatic shapers ( viprah \avayah) conceive of Him in many 
ways ( bahidha \alpayanti) the eagle that is one”; and x.90.11, where, 
after the First Sacrificers have divided up {vyadadhuh) the Person, the 
question is posed in brahmodaya fashion, “How many-fold did they think 
Him out?” (/( atidha vya\alpayan) . 9 It is precisely this goal ( artham ) of 
being made to dwell in many places ( bahudhd nivista ) that Agni dreads, 
as He lingers in the darkness ( tamasi \sesi, x.51.4-5), although, in fact, 
even while He proceeds He still remains within (anu agram carati \seti 
budhnah, ni.55.7 = \rsne budhne, iv.17.14 — vrsabhasya title, iv.1.12, 
etc.). As Eckhart expresses it, “the Son remains within as essence and 
goes forth as person ... the divine nature steps forth into relation of 
otherness, other but not another, for this distinction is rational, not real.” 
“To the Shapers He is manifested as the Sun of men” {avir . . . abhavat 
siiryd nrn, RV 1.146.4). 10 Cf. Plotinus, v.8.9, “He who is the one God 
. . . what place can be named to which He does not reach?” 

Equally explicit, however, arc the statements scattered through the other 
books. In particular, He is often said to have two different forms, accord¬ 
ing to His being in the Day or Night, and this is “as He wills” ( yatha 
va'sam , RV 111.48.4, vn.101.3; cf. x.168.4 and AV vi.72.1). When this is 
expressed as “Now He becometh sterile ( starir u tvad bhavati) now be¬ 
gets {sute u)," vn.101.3, c ^ e l atCer expression, like His designation as suh 
in 1.146.5, is as much as to say savita bhavati , “He becomes Savitr.” Cf. 
m.55.19 and x.10.5, where Tvastr and Savitr are identified by ap¬ 


is each of these divine wholes a power in fragment... the divine is one all-power.” 
The second passage might have been written of the Christian Trinity.] Here also, 
then, we meet with that superficial appearance of polytheism by which the apologist 
of some other religion than that under discussion is so conveniently deceived, the 
Muslim for example, when he calls the Christian doctrine of the Trinity "poly¬ 
theistic.” 

9 Vac, the Magna Mater, is similarly “divided" by the gods, and made to occupy 
multifarious stations ( ma deva vyadadhuh purutra bhuristhatram bhurya-vesay- 
antim , RV X.T25.3). It is made abundantly clear throughout that the divine unity 
is essential, the multiplicity conceptual. 

10 John 1:4, et vita erat lux hominum. [The Spiritual Sun (of RV 1.115.1, etc.) 
is the “Light of lights” ( jyotisam jyotis, RV 1.113.1, BU iv.4.16, etc.); “The bright 
Light of lights is what die knowers of the Spirit ( atma-vidah ) know,” Mund. Up. 
11.2.10); the “Father of lights” (James 1:17).] 


VEDIC “MONOTHEISM” 


position. In RV m.20.3 and vin.93.17, Agni and Indra are called polynomi- 
nal ( bhurini-nama, puru-ndma) and in 11.1, Agni is addressed by the 
names of nearly all the powers, and there are countless passages in which 
Indra is a designation of the Sun. In vm.i 1.8, Agni is “to be seen in many 
different places, or aspects” [cf. 1.79.5 an ^ vi.10.2, Agni purvanipah,\ Al¬ 
though His semblance is the same in many places ( purutra hi sadrnn asi, 
vin.ii.8, 1.94.7), yet His becoming is manifold ( purutra . . . abhavat 
1.146.5), and He is given many names, for “Even as He showeth, so is 
He called” ( yadrg eva dadrse tddrg ucyate , v.44.6), 11 of which SB x.5.2.20, 
cited above, is hardly more than a paraphrase. RV 1.146.5, cited above, is 
based on innumerable texts scattered throughout the Rg Veda, e.g., m.5.4 
and 9, where Agni is identified with Mitra, Varuna, and Matarisvan; in 

iv. 42.3, Varuna identifies Himself with Indra and Tvastr; similarly in 

v. 3.1-2, Agni is identified with Mitra, Varuna, and Indra. Nor is this a 
matter of mere suggestion; the particular points of view from which the 
different names are appropriate is carefully stated. 

[In the same way, if Agni as the Sun is the “face” or “point” ( ani\a) 
of the gods (RV 1.115.1, vn.88.2, etc.), and at the same time logically 
“many-faced” ( piirvanikah), “this does not put something real in the 
eternal God, but only something according to our way of thinking” {Sum. 
Theol. 111.35.5c), for “Men in their sacrificial worship have imposed upon 
Thee, Agni, the many faces” {bhurini hi tve dadhire anik&gnc devasya 
yajnavo janasah, RV m.19.4). The “faces” or “points” of the solar Agni 
are in fact his “rays,” those very rays by which the Spiritual Sun sup¬ 
ports the being of all things, but by which the solar Gateway is concealed 
(JUB 1.3.6), he who would enter in praying, accordingly, that the rays 
may be dispersed (Isa Up. 15, etc.). Otherwise expressed, Agni is the 
Tree of Life {vanaspati, passim), “The ‘other Fires’ are thy branches” 
(RV 1.59.1): “all other Agnis stem from thee, O Agni”; “All these deities 
are forms of Agni” (AB 111.4) - 12 ] 


11 As in Sum. Theol. 1.13.1 ad 3, “Pronomina vero demonstrativa dicuntur de 
Deo, secundum quod faciunt demonstrationem ad id quod intelligitur, non ad id 
quod senutur. Secundum enim quod a nobis intelligitur, secundum hoc sub demon¬ 
strationem cadit.” 

12 E.g., AV xiii. 3.13, “This Agni becomes Varuna in the evening; in the morning 
he becomes Mitra,” etc.; JUB m.21.1-2, where the Gale (Vayu) blows from the 
five quarters—east, south, west, north, and above—respectively as Indra, Isana, 
Varuna, Soma, and Prajapad; JUB tv.5.1, where Agni, “Varuna’s messenger,” be¬ 
comes Savitr at Dawn, Indra Vaikuntha at noon, Yama at night; J iv.137, “Sujampati 
in heaven proclaimed, as Maghava on earth is named.” 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


VEDIC “MONOTHEISM' 


In many cases the verb bhu, to “become,” as it occurs in the Brahmana 
and Niru\ta texts already cited, is employed in the Rg Veda to denote in 
the same sense the passing over from one name and function to another. 
For example, RV m.5.4, “Agni becometh ( bhavati ) Mitra when enkin¬ 
dled, Mitra the priest; and Varuna becometh Jatavedas”; cf. iv.42.3, “I, 
Varuna, am Indra,” and v.3.1-2, “Thou, Agni, art Varuna at birth, 
(bhuvo varuno yad rtdya vesi, x.8.5), becomest ( bhavasi ) Mitra when 
enkindled. In thee, O Son of Strength, abide the Universal Gods; Indra 
art thou to the mortal worshipper. With respect to maidens thou be¬ 
comest Aryaman, and as Svadhavan bearest a secret name” ( nama . . . 
guhyam), probably as Trita of 1.163.3, “Trita art thou by the interior 
operation (asi.. . tritoguhyena vratena).’’ Again, RV m.29.11, “As Titan 
Germ he hight Tanunapat, 13 when born abroad is Narasarisa, when 
fashioned in the Mother he becometh Matarisvan, the Gale of the Spiritus 
in its course” ( tanunapat ucyate garbha dsuro narasdnso bhavati yad vi- 
y ay ate matarisva yad amimita matari vatasya sargo [garbha] abhavat 
sarimani, cf. m.5.9). That Spiritus is indeed Varuna’s own Essence (atma 
te vdta, vii.87.2), and the breath of Vac (x.125.8), a gale whose form is 
never seen, but is the Essence (atmd) of all the gods, moving as it listeth 
(x.168.4). 

To the foregoing passages, in which the diversified effects of what is 
really a single operation are considered, may be added RV vi.47.18, “He 
is the counterform of every form, it is that form of His that we should 
look upon; Indra, by virtue of His magic powers proceeds as multiform” 
(rupam rupam pratirupam babhiiva tad asya rupam ca\sanaya, indro 
mdydbhih pururupa lyate), a passage closely corresponding to Eckhart’s 
“single form that is the form of many different things,” resuming the 
scholastic doctrine of exemplarism. And whereas in x.5.1 Agni alone is 
rtupati, in RV vi.9.5, “The Several Gods with one common mind and 
common will unerring move upon the single season” (e\am rtum, cf. 
e\a rtu in AV vm.9.26, cited above), closely corresponding to Sum. Theol. 
m.32, 1 ad 3, where what is done by one of the Persons of the Trinity 
is said to be done by all, “because there is one nature and one will.” 

SB vm.7.3.10, “Yonder Sun strings these worlds upon his Spirit as upon 

13 The name Tanunapat, “Grandson of Himself,” formulates the well-known 
doctrine that “Agni is kindled by Agni” (RV 1.12.6, vm.43.14), according to which 
in ritual the new Garhapatya must be lit from the old. Cf. Sum. Theol. 111.32A 
ad 1, “the taking itself (i.e., the assumption of human nature, taking birth) is at¬ 
tributed to the Son,” i.e., it is the Son’s own (aiiToye 107s) act as well as that of the 
other Persons. 

172 



a thread,” BG vii.7, “All this is threaded upon me,” and x.20, “I am the 
Spirit seated in the heart of all beings,” merely repeat the thought of RV 
1.115.1, “The Sun is the Spirit ( atman ) of all that is moving or at rest.” 
In x.121.2, Hiranyagarbha (Agni, Prajapati), is called the “giver of Spirit,” 
(atmada), and it is in this sense that Agni in 1.149.3, ls “°£ hundred-fold 
Essence” (satatma [cf. bhuri nama vandamano dadhati , v.3.10). In 
x.51.7 Agni is called upon to give the gods their “share” (bhdgam) •, 
that is his particular function as priest. 

It is thus clear enough that the Niru\ta and the Brhad Devatd are fully 
justified in saying that the gods are participants (bhakta) in the divine 
Essence or spiration; even the phraseology of the Vedic mantras is re¬ 
tained by the expositors, The reference to “participation” leads us to the 
consideration of Vedic Bhaga, later Bhagavdn. Bhaga is not a personal 
name, but rather a general designation of the active power in any of his 
aspects, as the “Free Giver” or “Sharer-out,” who makes his bhaktas to 
participate in his riches. These riches can be only the aspects of his Es¬ 
sence, for assuredly we cannot think of deity as possessing anything more 
than what He himself is; “Sharing out himself, He fills these worlds full” 
(dtmanam vibhajya purayati imdn lo\an). This last is indeed an Upani- 
sadic text (MU vi.26), but the concept is Vedic. Bhaga is, in fact, 
referred to by apposition as the “Dispenser” ( vibha\tr , RV v.46.6); and 
bhaga is “share” or “dispensation,” as in 11.17.7, addressed to Indra, “I 
pray thee, Bhaga . . . measure out, bring forward, give me that share 
(bhdgam) whereby the body is empowered ( mamah ),” where bhdgam 
— amrtasya bhdgam, in 1.164.21; cf. also vm.99.3, “Depending upon him, 
as upon the Sun, the Several (vi'sve, sc. devah) have participated in what 
is Indra’s”; 1.68.2, where in a laud addressed to Agni, the Several (visve, 
sc. devah) are said to “participate in thy deity” (bhajanta devatvam); 
vn.81.2 has the prayer at dawn, “May we be associated in participation” 
(sam bhaktena gamemahi). From these passages it is sufficiently plain 
that bhaga and vibha\tr are the dispenser or giver, who bestows himself 
or his substance; sambhaja , the participant who shares in the gift; bhaga, 
bhakja, and bhakta the share that is given or received. While these are 
Vedic expressions, bhakti, the act of distribution, or making to partake 
of what is given, and bhakta as the synonym of vibha\tr, the giver, oc¬ 
cur only later. 

The vexed problem of the “origin of the bhabti movement” need never, 
perhaps, have been posed, if renderings such as these had been retained 

173 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

in the translation of later texts, especially that of Bhagavad Gita. Bha\ta 
in the Rg Veda may be either the share of “treasure” obtained by the 
sacrificer from the deity (iv.i.io, ratnam devabha\tam, etc.), or, con¬ 
versely, the share that is given or appointed to the deities by the sacrificer 
(1.91.1, pitaro . . . devesu ratnam abhajanta dhirah), [and typically by 
Agni as sacrificial priest ( hotr ), “Convey thou graciously unto the gods 
their share ( bhdgam ) of the oblation” (x.51.7): Ita missa estl]. In the 
latter case the sacrificer or sacrificial priest is the vibhaktr, and the sub¬ 
stitution of bha\ta for the Vedic vibhaktr introduces no new conception. 

Bhakji implies devotion, because all giving presupposes love: it does not 
follow that bha\ti should be translated by “love.” It is true that the 
bha\ti-mdrga is also the prema-marga, the passive “Way of Love,” as 
distinguished from the jhana-marga, the active “Way of Gnosis”; but that 
the expressions bha\ti-marga and prema-marga have a common reference 
does not make them synonymous (expressions are only “synonymous” 
when they refer to the same thing under the same aspect). It can hardly 
be denied that the pitarah who in RV 1.91.1, abhijanta, were bha/{tas in 
the later sense, or that theirs was a bha\ti-marga. We should render 
bhakji-mdrga “Way of Dedication” or “Way of Devotion” rather than 
“Way of Love.” It is true in the same way that “participation” implies 
“love,” and vice versa, since a love that does not participate in the beloved 
is by no means “love," but rather “desire.” Love and participation are 
nevertheless logically differentiated conceptions, each of which plays its 
own part in the definition of the devotional act; and when the two ex¬ 
pressions are confused in an equivocal rendering, not only are these shades 
of meaning lost, but at the same time the evidence of the continuity of 
Vedic with later thought is concealed, and an unreal problem is evoked. 

We then wish to express ourselves as in full agreement with the views 
of Franklin Edgerton, who concluded that “everything contained in at 
least the older Upanisads, with almost no exceptions, is not new to the 
Upanisads, but can be found set forth, or at least very clearly fore¬ 
shadowed, in the older Vedic texts,” 14 and those of Maurice Bloomfield, 
who argued “that mantra and brahmana are for the least part chronologi¬ 
cal distinctions; that they represent two modes of literary activity, and 
two modes of literary speech, which are largely contemporaneous. . . . 
Both forms existed together, for aught we know, from the earliest times; 
only the redaction of the mantra collections seems on the whole to have 
preceded the redaction of the Brdhmanas. .. . The hymns of the Rg Veda, 

14 JAOS, XXXVI (1917), 197. 

174 



VEDIC "MONOTHEISM” 

like those of the other three Vedas, were liturgical from the very start. 
This means that they form only a fragment . . . late texts and commen¬ 
taries may contain the correct explanation”; 15 Bloomfield also, with ref¬ 
erence to the oldest parts of the Rg Veda, calls it “the last precipitate, 
with a long and tangled past behind it of a literary activity of great and 
indefinite length.” 18 

We are in agreement with Alfred Jeremias, when he says in the Fore¬ 
word to his Altorientalische Geisteskultur (Berlin, 1929) : “Die Menschen- 
heitsbildung ist ein einheitliches Ganzes, und in den verschiedenen Kul- 
turen findet man die Dialekte der einen Geistessprache”; with Carl 
Anders Scharbau ( Die Idee der Schopjung in der vedischen Literatur, 
Stuttgart, 1932), “die Tiefe und Grosse der theologischen Erkenntnis des 
Rgvedas keineswegs hinter der des Vedanta zuriicksteht”; 17 and finally 
with Sayapa, that none of the Vedic references are historical. 

It is precisely the fact that the Vedic incantations are liturgical that 
makes it unreasonable to expect from them a systematic exposition of 
the philosophy they take for granted; if we consider the mantras by them¬ 
selves, it is as if we had to deduce the Scholastic philosophy only from 
the libretto of the Mass. Not that this would be impossible, but that we 
should be accused of reading into the Mass meanings that could not 
possibly have been present to the mentality prevailing in the “Dark Ages," 
of yielding, as Professor Keith expresses it (who cannot himself be accused 
of any such weakness), to “our natural desire ... to find reason pre¬ 
vailing in a barbarous age.” In fact, however, the mantras and the Latin 
hymns alike are so closely wrought, their symbolism is employed with 
such mathematical exactitude (Emile Male speaks of Christian symbolism 
as a “calculus”), that we cannot possibly suppose that their authors did 
not understand their own words; it is we who misunderstand, if we in¬ 
sist on reading algebra as though it were arithmetic. All that we can 
learn from literary history is that the doctrines which are taken for 
granted in the mantras were not, perhaps, published until after a certain 
amount of linguistic change had already taken place; we may find some 
new words, but we do not meet with new ideas. It is our own fault if 
we cannot see that Mitravarunau, of whom the latter is “the immortal 
brother of the mortal” former, are none other than the apara and the 
para Brahman to whom the Upanisads refer as mortal and immortal 
respectively. 

15 JAOS, XV (1893), 144. 10 JAOS, XXIX (1908), 288. 

17 P. 168, n. 166. 

175 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


Just as, in relation to the Babylonian liturgies, there must also have 
existed a “wisdom literature . . . not written to be repeated in temples,” 
and as it must be assumed that there existed the concept of a “single 
God . . . [whose] various aspects were not yet considered separate deities 
in the Sumero-Accadian pantheon," 18 so in the case of the Vedic liturgies, 
where the occurrence of the concepts of a “One, that is equally spirated, 
despirated” (anit avatam, x.129.2), and of Agni as “being and non-being 
in one” {sadasat, x.5.7) cannot be called surprising. We see then in the 
Brahmanas, Upanisads, Bhagavad Gita, and even in Buddhism, nothing 
but an ultimate recension and publication of what had always been 
taught, whether to initiates or in those circles the existence of which is 
implied by the brahmddaya form of many hymns, and by such Brahmans 
as that one who in RV x.71.11 is referred to as expounding the lore of 
the genesis {vadati jata-vidyam), and whom we may assume to have 
been, like Agni himself, a “comprehensor of the generations of all things 
{visva veda janima , vi.15.13; cf. iv.27.1).” 

18 Stephen Herbert Langdon, Tammuz and Ishtar (Oxford, 1914), p. n. 

10 Henri Frankfort, Iraq Excavations of the Oriental Institute, /932//9J3 (Chi¬ 
cago, 1934), I, 47 - 

[Addendum: Meister Eckhart, Evans ed., II, 153, “Were there an hundred Persons 

in the Godhead, the man who sees distinctions apart from time and number would 
apprehend no more than one.”] 



Vedic Exemplarism 

God is the cause of all things by His knowledge. 

St. Thomas, Sum. Theol. (Suppl.) 111.88.3. 


The doctrine of Exemplarism is bound up with that of forms or ideas, 
and has to do with the intelligible relation that subsists as between the 
forms, ideas, similitudes, or eternal reasons of things {nama, “name” or 
“noumenon” = forma) and the things themselves in their accidental and 
contingent aspects (riipa, “phenomenon” — figura). This is as much as to 
say that Exemplarism, in the last analysis, is the traditional doctrine of 
the relation, cognitive and causal, between the one and the many: the 
nature of which relation is implied in Vedic Sanskrit by the expressions 
vi'svam el{am (RV 111.54.8), “the many that are one, the one that is mani¬ 
fold” (= Plotinus, “integral multiplicity”), visvam satyam (RV 11.24.12), 
“the manifold truth,” and visvam . . . garbham (RV x.121.7), “the germ 
of all,” and more fully enunciated in SB x.5.2.16, “As to this they say, ‘Is 
He then one or many?’ One should answer, ‘One and many.’ For inas¬ 
much as He is That, He is one; and inasmuch as He is multiply dis¬ 
tributed {bahudha vyavistih) in his children, He is many,” 1 i.e., as the 

[This essay was first published in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, I (1936). 
-ED.] 

1 “He,” in the original, “Death” ( mrtyu) ; “That,” i.e., “the Person in the Sun.” 
In order not to complicate the present exposition by a discussion de divinis nomini¬ 
bus, the pronoun has generally been substituted for the name of deity actually 
employed in the passages cited. I have discussed the use of essential names in my 
Vedic ‘Monotheism’” [in the present volume— ed.]. The general principle is as 
follows: deity is everywhere of one and the same form (RV vm.ii.8, purutra hi 
sadrrtn asi- 1.94.7, yo vi'svatah suprati\ah sadrnn asi), i.e., is perfectly simple but 
bas many names, the application of which inheres not in Him, but in the percipient; 
r ? Ven as seems > so He named” ( y'adrg eva dadrse tddrg ucyate , RV v.44.6); 
1 He Himself is all the gods,” BU 11.5.19;] “As He is approached, so He becomes 
(yathopasate tad eva bhavati, SB x.5.2.20), for example, “Indra art Thou to the 
mortal worshipper" (RV v.3.1), “Thou art Varuna at birth, becomest Mitra when 
kindled" (RV m.5.4 and v.3.1). 


176 


177 





MAJOR ESSAYS 

“Person in the mirror ( adar’se purusah), Who is born in his children 
in a likeness” (pratiriipah . . . prajdyamajdyata , Kaus. Up. iv.ii ). 2 

The doctrine in these respects cannot be better demonstrated than by 
means of a diagram consisting of two concentric circles, with their com¬ 
mon center and two or more radii, or by the corresponding Vedic symbol 
of a wheel ( ca\ra ) with its felly, hub, and spokes. Such a diagram or 
symbol represents the universe in cross section, the circles any two levels 
of reference or “worlds” (lo\a), or more specifically, the individual and 
intellectual, or human and angelic (adhydtma and adhidaivata ) levels of 
reference. The whole world, or universe ( visvam), thus represented cor¬ 
responds to the ensemble of all possibilities of manifestation, whether 
informal, formal, or sensible; a world ( lo\a = locus) is a given ensemble 
of possibilities, a given modality. The infinite ocean of all possibility, 
whether of manifestation or nonmanifestation, is represented by the blank 
surface of the paper which at the same time interpenetrates and transcends 
the indefinite extension of the finite universe represented by the diagram; 
this unlimited surface is unaffected by the extension or abstraction of 
the diagram, which has no position. Each radius, spoke, or ray represents 
the whole being of an individual consciousness, its intersection with any 
circumference the operation of this consciousness at that level of ref¬ 
erence; each such point of intersection forming the center of a minor 
“world,” which must be thought of as a smaller circle struck about its 
own center, on the inner surface of the sphere of which the diagram is 
a cross section, in a plane, that is, at right angles to the radius or ray 
that connects the unique center with the point in question. 

The unique center is, like the whole diagram, without position in its 
ambient, “position” having a meaning only upon or within the circum¬ 
ference; and just as this ambient is unaffected by the presumption of a 
center with or without its dependent radii, so the properties of the unique 
center once assumed are unaffected by the extension or subtraction of radii. 
And as the indefinitely numerous points which constitute the surface of 

2 \Anurupah, conformable by name; pratirupa, corresponding form, JUB 1.27 
cf. RV vi.47.18; adar'sc pratiriipah , “I worship the Being in the mirror ... I also 
worship His reflection,” Kaus. Up. iv.ii; tvam eva pratijayase, ‘Thou alone art 
counter born (reborn, born in a likeness),” Prasna Up. 11.7. “All mirrors in the 
universe, I ween, display Thy image with its radiant sheen,” Jam!, Lawciih , 26; 
apratirupah is foul, deformed, papam, evil, improper, BU 1.3.4; na - • • potiriipam, 
“unseemly,” “not in good form,” A 1.148. 

Monier-Williams gives pratima, masc. creator, fern, likeness; cf. Augustine, De 
spiritu et littera 37, “This likeness begins now to be formed again in us”; and 
Paradiso xxvi.106, xxtx.i42ff., for “mirror.”] 

178 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

indefinitely numerous concentric spheres represent the points of view of 
individual knowing subjects, so the unique point from which all radii 
proceed and to which all converge represents an omniscient, supra-indi- 
vidual consciousness, metaphysically the First Principle, theologically God 
in his intelligible aspect, that of the Supernal Sun, or Light; while what 
we have called the ambient, at once immanent and transcendent, rep¬ 
resents the Godhead or Divine Darkness. Strictly speaking, the diagram 
should have been drawn not in black on white, but in gold against a 
black ground, and it is thus in fact that the Vedic jyotiratha , “the chariot 
of light” (= Biblical “chariot of fire”), and its wheels are conceived. 

In such a diagram, it is obvious that for every point on the outer circum¬ 
ference there is a corresponding and analogous point on the inner cir¬ 
cumference, with only this difference, that on the inner circumference 
the “points” are more closely packed. If the circumference of the inner 
circle be reduced, the same condition holds good. In such reduction, there 
can be no moment at which the “points” of which the circumference (or 
spherical surface represented by it) is composed can be thought of as 
annihilated; we can only continue to think of them as more and more 
densely packed, and finally coinciding in a unity without composition. 
In other words, all of the radii, all individual principles, and in their 
total extension, are represented at their common center in principio, in an 
inconnumerablc principle (tattva), which is at the same time an alto¬ 
gether simple substance ( dharma ) and possessed of a multifarious nature 
( suabhaua); a single point, and yet for each radius its own and private 
starting point. In just this sense, “The notions of all created things 
{kavya = \avi\armdni) inhere in Him, who is as it were the hub within 
the wheel (cakre ndbhir iva srita, RV vin.41.6) ; 8 “In Him are all beings, 

3 Similarly, RV x.82.6, “Inherent in the nave(l) of the Unborn, in which insist 
the several worlds as one” (ajasya nabhau adhi e\am arpitam yasmin vi'svani 
bhuvanani tasthuh) ; or aja may be rendered by “Goat,” the reference being to the 
Sun as Visvakarma, the “All-maker,” in either case. 

As to the rendering of \dvya by “notions of all created things”: Vedic \avi is 
poet” in the sense of the original Greek 7roojrjjs, that is, Philo’s sense, and as the 
word is applied to God in the New Testament. It is as “creator” that the term 
k.avi is used of the Sun, Agni, and others in the Rg Veda\ while \dvya, cited 
above from vm.41.6, is not as in the later rhetoric merely a “poem,” but “whatever 
is made by a \avi," whether by way of generation or art. If the word kavy'a in 
the sense of “poem” also implies a diction, expression, and utterance, this cor¬ 
responds to the Scholastic equation of rationes with A oyoi (St. Bonaventura, 83 
Quaestiones, q.46, n. 2). 

If the Vedic \avayah are in a certain sense tire authors of the su\tas, it is rather 
as finders or inventors (in the etymological sense of in-venio, dis-cover) than as 

179 




/ MAJOR ESSAYS 

and the eye that oversees; intellect (mams), spiration (prdnah), and 
noumenon (nama) coincident (samdhitam, ‘being in samadht)-, in him 
when he comes forth all his children enjoy (nandanti) (the fulfilment of 
their ends or purposes, by which their will to life is determined) sent 
by him, and born of him, it is in him that all this universe is stablished,” 
AV xix.53.6-9; and in the same way as the Person, or Man, He is called 
the ‘resort of all phenomena” (rupdny cva yasydyatanam . . . purusam, 
BU m.9.16). ' 

This inherence in the central consciousness is accordingly the means of 
a unified density of cognition” (e\ibhuta prajndna-ghana, Mand. Up. 
5), a cognitive pleroma ’ (krtsnah prajndna-ghana, BU iv.5.13); “He 
knows the whole speculatively” (visvam sa veda varuna yathd dhiyd , 5 
x . ii . i ), and ab intra, “being provident, even before birth, of all the 
generations of the Angels” (garbhc nu sann anvesdm avedam aham de- 


composcrs; theirs is the prophetic" faculty; and the sukfas themselves are of quick- 
‘literature 'no I ° f rem ° Ve< ' fr ° m conce P tions ° f authorship and 

th.ncsin their ki d-' f UrrCnt ' • - ,S aS ^ tHat ‘ hC Sun " WCars ,he all 

rom f ‘ hC ' r k '" d (9 ™ n, P am P ra “ ideate, RV V.8..2), that is, "frees his 

comrades from the curse (amuheat nir avadydt, RV m.31.8), from the bonds of 

una fw^ RV x.92.14), i.e., from the fetter of Death (bandhandt mrtyor, 

rial all ri,- tllC ?“* act of shini '*. thc Supernal Sun thus 

s Phsan h ^ u nCSS T ght ‘ fr0m pocemialit y to att, he is called, 

as Pujan, the Son of liberation (vimuco napdt, RV 1.42.1 and passim). 

AV xix.53.7, iialcna sarva nandanty dgatena, translated above, reflects RV 
x.7 I; .o, sarve nandanti . . dgatena . . . sa^hyd, Kala ("Time," the "Year”) re- 
placmg Sakhi (the Comrade,” sc. Varuna, cf. God as the “Friend” in SGfl par¬ 
lance). This variant is omitted in Bloomfield's Concordance. 

5 Sayan as paraphrase is admirable: dhiyd is 'atmdnurdpayd prajnayd, "by his 
foresight (providence) in his own likeness.” Dhi = dhydna = contcmplatio. The 
/" Varuna corresponds to the hdarsa-jhhna or "mirror-knowledge” of 

the wana-dharmakaya, which in MahSySna Buddhism is also a "knowledge of 
sameness” (samata-jnana), c.g., in the Abhisamayalamkdra (Obermiller, in Acta 
Unentalia, IX), and a simultaneous act; cf. Lan\duatdra Sdtra ...i I5l “Just as waves 
anse in the sea simultaneously (yugapatkdle), as things are seen simultaneously in 
a mirror or in dream, so is the mind in its own pasture” (cittam svagocare [= svay- 
oma in MU vi.34, where cittam svayonau upasdmyate]). I do not agree with Suzuki 
that this verse is out of place in its context; the idea is that just as when a breeze 
springs up, the dawn wind of creation for example, the whole surface of the 
waters is covered by ripples, which arise all together and not one by one or one 
after another here and there, so in the world-picture the mind sees all things at 
one and the same time (yugapatkdle)-, while svagocare, "in its own pasture,” does 
not mean “in its own sense-fields,” but the contrary of this, being equivalent to 
svastha-cittah, svastha-buddhih, andyasa-cittah, and such expressions employed in 
connection with dhydna. 


VEDIC EXEMPLARISM 

vanam janimani visvd, RV iv.27.1); 6 in other words, His knowledge of 
things is not derived from them objectively and post factum, but from 
their prior likeness in the mirror of His own intellect. Just as the physical 
sun enjoys a bird’s-eye view of this whole earth in its orbit, so the Supernal 
Sun “surveys the whole” (visvam . . . abhicaste, RV 1.164.44), being the 
eye or Aussichtspun\t (adhya\sa) of Varuna or of the Angels collectively 
(vam cakjur . . . suryas . . . abhi yo vi'sva bhuvanani caste, RV vn.61.1; 
cf. 1.115.1, x.37.1, x.129.7; VS xm.45, etc.), just as, in the Avesta, the Sun 
(hvare — svar = surya) is Ahura Mazda’s eye, and in Buddhism, the 
Buddha is still the “eye in the world” (ca\\hum lofe)- What this eye 
sees in the eternal mirror is the “world-picture”; “The Primal Spirant 
(paramatman) sees the world-picture (jagac-citra, lit. the ‘picture of what 
moves’) painted by itself upon a canvas that is nothing but itself, and 
takes a great delight therein” (Sankaracarya, Svatmanirupana 95); “sees 
all things at once in their diversity and in coincidence” (abhi vi pasyati 
and abhi sampasyati, RV 111.62.9, x.187.4; cf. VS xxxii.8, sam ca vi ca 
eti; and BG vi.29-30). 

Taken in and by itself, this First Spirant, without composition (ad- 
vaita), and at rest (sayana), is the “living conjoint principle” of St. 
Thomas (Sum. Theol. 1.27.2c), the unity of the “cohabitant parents” 
(sakjita ubha . . . matard, RV 1.140.3, pari!{sitd pitara, iu.7.1, etc.) who 
are innumerably named, but typically “Intellect” (manas) and “Word 
(vac)? whose conjunction effects what Eckhart calls “the act of fecunda¬ 
tion latent in eternity.” But this unintelligible unity of the Father 
(-Mother) 8 belongs entirely to the darkness of the “common nest” or 

8 It is as visvd veda janimani that Agni is called Jatavcdas, “comprehensor of 
the genesis of things,” RV passim, and as such that he is identified with Varuna, 
ah intra (nt.5.4), being indeed the “comprehensor of Varuna” (iv.1.4); and this 
"lore of genesis” (jatavidya) which the Brahman knows in x.71.11 is the same 
thing as the “hidden names of the Angels” (devanam guhyd ndmani, v.5.10), as 
will be evident when we turn to the further discussion of nama. This divine provi¬ 
dence or wisdom is also spoken of as “counsel” (kratu, often, like maya and sad, 
met with in pi. and then equivalent to “powers”), e.g., iv.12.1, "Thou art a Com¬ 
prehensor by thy counsel, Jatavedas (tava \ratvd jdtavedas ci\itvan ).” 

‘ Manas and Vac as conjoint pair occur in the Rg Veda, Brahmanas, and Upani- 
sads, passim. Vac is verbum, and as in Italian, feminine (la parola). Cf. Eckhart, 
The Father wantons with the Word”; “From the Father’s embrace of his own 
nature (= svabhava, prakrti. Vac, Savitrl, Surya, etc.) comes the eternal playing 
(= nitya lila) of the Son.” 

8 AV vm.9.10, “Who knoweth the mithunatva of Virajr”; cf. JUB 1.54, “They 
(dual) becoming Viraj (s.) engendered (yonder Sun) (tau virdd bhutvii prhjanaya- 
tdmY [cf. purutra . . . abhavat, RV 1.146.5; pururupa iyate, vi.47.18; and AV 


180 


181 








MAJOR ESSAYS 

“matrix” wherein all things come to be of one and the same ilk ( yatra 
visvam bhuvaty e\anidam, Narayana Up. 3, cf. RV iv.10.1 \hila, and VS 
xxxii.8; sarve asmin deva e\avrto bhavanti, AV xm.4.20). 

Thus, while the divine intellect and the ideas or forms or eternal rea¬ 
sons apparent to it are one simply secundum rem, the latter are at the 
same time manifold secondum rationem intelligendi sive dicendi (St. 
Bonaventura, I Sent, d.35, a. unic., q.3, concl.). As Plotinus expresses it 
(iv.4.1) “The Highest, as a self-contained unity, has no outgoing ef¬ 
fect. 9 . . . But the unity of the power is such as to allow of its being 
multiple to another principle, to which it is all things.” 

What is represented in our diagram already presumes the diremption 
(dvedha, BU 1.4.3) those that had been closely embraced ( samparis- 
vaktau , ibid), that is, of knower and known, subject and object, essence 
and nature, Heaven and Earth, as indicated by the remotion of the cir¬ 
cumference from the center. This diremption and divine procession (\ra- 
ma — dvitva, Taittiriya Prati'sakjiya xxi.16) 10 is coincident with the birth 
of the Son (IndragnI), of Light (jyotis), of the Sun, “Savitr the creator, 
who wears the visible forms of all things” (vised rupdni prati muncate 
\avih . . . savita, RV v.81.2); “by the separation of the prior, the latter 
came forth” (prathamah . . . \rntatrad esam upard udayan , RV x.27.23). 
In other words, the act of being implied by the words “I am that I am,” 
“I am Brahman,” 11 although entirely one of self-intention, becomes from 
an external point of view the act of creation, which is at the same time a 

9 “Having no outgoing effect," Skr. avisvaminva. 

10 Conversely, "There is no procession of one in samadhi" (\ramo ndsti samahite, 
Lan\avatara Sutra 11.117). Samadhi corresponds to raptus or excessus in Christian 
yoga, but metaphysically a con-centration must be distinguished from a religious 
ecstasy in the etymological sense of the latter word, viz. that of a going outside 
oneself. 

11 “It knew, indeed, itself, that ‘I am Brahman,’ thereby it became the All” 
(BU 1.4.10). This does not, of course, represent an empirical consideration of one’s 
own mentality as object, but is the pure act of being, where to be and to know 
are the same thing; it in no way contradicts Erigena's magnificent words, “God 
does not know what He himself is, for He is not any what; and this ignorance 
surpasses all knowledge.” 

BU 1.4.10, “It became the All" (set idam sarvam bhavati), corresponds to RV 
vm.58.2, “One only Fire is kindled manifold, one only Sun is present to one and 
all, one only Dawn illuminates this All; that which is only One becomes this All 
(e\am vd idam vi babhuva sarvam),’’ and is echoed also in connection with the 
Buddha, S n.212, “I being One become many, and being many become One (ekp 
pi bahudhd homi, bahudhd pi hutvd e\o homi).” Cf. also MU vi.26 and KU v.12, 
“Who maketh His single form to be manifold” (e\am ruparn bahudhd yah \aroti). 

182 



VEDIC EXEMPLARISM 

generation (prajanana) and an intellectual (manasa) creation per artem 
(tasta) and ex voluntate (yatha vasam, kamya)\ for the Son “in whom 
were created all things” (Col. 1 :i6) is also their form and exemplar, the 
whole occasion of their existence, 12 and it is, accordingly, that species and 
beauty are appropriated to the Son, whom as being the Word, i.e., as con¬ 
cept, Augustine calls the “art” of God. 10 

The Son or Sun is thus the “single form that is the form of very dif¬ 
ferent things” (Eckhart, resuming in these words the whole doctrine) 14 all 
of which are in his likeness, as he is in theirs—but with this very important 
distinction necessitated by the inconnumerability of the unique center, that 
while the likeness in the thing depends upon the archetype, the latter in 
no way depends upon the thing, but is logically antecedent: “The model 
of all that is, preexistent, He knows all generations (satahsatah pratima- 
nam purobhur visvd veda janima), He smites the Dragon; shining (or 
‘sounding’) forth (pra . . . arcan) from Heaven our Leader, cattle-fain, as 
Comrade frees his comrades from the curse” (amuncal nir avadyat, RV 
111.31.8; pratijuti-varpasah, 111.60.1; eitam ruparn bahudhd yah karoti, KU 
v.12). 15 The terms “exemplar" and “image,” which imply in strictness 
“model” and “copy,” can, however, be used equivocally, and for this reason 
a distinction is made between the archetype as imago imagmans and the 

12 “Exemplar means raison d'etre" (exemplar rationem producentis dicit, St. 
Bonaventura, I Sent., d.31, p.n, a.i, q.l ad 3); "Idea is the likeness of a thing, by 
which it is known and produced" (ibid., d.35, a. unic., q.i, fund.2); "Exemplar 
implies idea, word, art, and reason (idea, verbum, ars, et ratio)-, idea, with respect 
to the act of foresight; word, with respect to the act of statement; art, with respect 
to the act of making; and reason, with respect to the act of completing, because it 
adds the intention of the end in view. And because all these are one and the same 
in God, one is often said in place of another” (Breviloquium, p.i, c.8). From these 
definitions the reader will be enabled to judge of the propriety of the employment 
of the terms in translation. 

13 See Sum. Theol. 1.39.7; the artist, accordingly, whether human or divine, 
works “by a word conceived in his intellect" (per verbum in intellectu conccptum, 
ibid., 1.45.6c). Cf. St. Bonaventura, “Agens per intellectum producit per formas, 
quae non sunt aliquid rei, sed idea in mente sicut artifex producit arcam” (II Sent., 
d.i, p.i, a.i, q.i ad 3, 4): "et quia multa sunt cognita, et unum cognoscens, ideo 
ideae sunt plurcs, et ars tantum una” (ibid., 1.35, a. unic., q.3 ad 2). 

14 Cf. St. Bonaventura, “Quia vero (exemplar in Deo) infinitum et immensum, 
ideo extra omne genus. Et hinc est, quod existens unum potest esse similitudo 
expressiva [—srjyamana] multorum” ( Breviloquium, p.i, c.8). 

lo Here the divine providence is direedy connected with the act of creation (con¬ 
quest of the dragon, and release of individual potentialities from the darkness, 
duress, and deformity or evil of the antenatal tomb, to light and operation). “Cattle” 
>n the Rg Veda are unrealized potentialities of every kind, of which the proceeding 
principles desire to take effective possession. 

183 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


VEDIC EXEMPLARISM 


imitation as imago imaginata (St. Bonaventura, 1 Sent., d.31, p.n, a.i, q.i, 
concl.). A corresponding ambiguity is met with in Sanskrit, where the 
distinction must be made according to the context. As imago imaginans, 
the deity is called “primordial omniform” ( agriyam visvarupam, RV 
1.13.10), “the likeness of all things” (vi'svasya pratimanam, RV n.12.9; 
cf. 111.31.8, cited above), “the omniform likeness of a thousand” ( sahasra - 
sya pratimam visvariipam, VS xm.41), “the counterpart of Earth” (prati- 
manam prthivyah, RV 1.52.13), “for every figure He hath been the form 
(rupam rupam pratiriipo babhuva ), that is his likeness that we should re¬ 
gard ( tad asya rupam praticakjanaya), it is by His magic powers (may- 
abhih) that He proceeds in a plurality of aspects” ( pururupa iyate, RV 
vi.47.18). If it be asked, “What was the model, what the starting point?” 
{\a . . . pratima niddnam \im, RV x.130.3), the answer is, the sacrificial 
victim; for this image and this likeness by which the Father proceeds is 
the sacrifice—“yielding himself up to the Angels, he expressed a likeness 
of himself, to wit, the sacrifice, hence one says, ‘Prajapati is the sacrifice’ ” 

(atmanah pratimanam asrjata, yad yajndm, tasmdd ahuh prajdpatir yajnah, 
SB xi.1.8.3), c ^- “Manu is the sacrifice, the standard ( pramitih ), our Sire,” 
RV x.100.5; where the relation of the one and the many is again involved, 
for the Father remains impassible, although in a consubstantial likeness 
(that of the “Year,” ibid, xi.1.6.13) sacrificially divisible. But while in these 
passages there can be no doubt of the priority of the pattern ( pratimana, 
pratima, pratirupa), pratirupa in Kausitaki Upanisad cited below is no less 
surely imago imaginata-, and although He is the model of all things, no 
one of them can be called His like, “There is no likeness ( pratimanam) of 
him amongst those born or to be born” (RV iv.18.4.12; cf. BU iv.1.6). 1 ® 

The exemplary image, form, or idea is then a likeness in the prior sense 
of imitable prototype; in fact, “It is inasmuch as God knows His essence 
as being imitable by this or that creature, that He knows it as the particular 
reason and idea of that creature” {Sum. Theol. 1.15.2c). 17 An assimilation 
such as this need not imply a likeness of nature or mode; indeed, minima 
assimilatio sufficit ad rationem exemplaris (St. Bonaventura, / Sent., d.36, 
a.3, q.2 fund.). For example, if “He shines upon this world in the aspect 
of Person” {purusa-riipena, AA 11.2.1), if man is “made in the image and 

16 “No likeness,” i.e., no similitudo univocationis sive participationis (St. Bona¬ 
ventura, 1 Sent., (1-35, a. unic., q.i, concl.); non est similitudo per unius naturae 
participationem {ibid., d.34, a. unic., q.4 ad 1). 

17 “Idea non nominat tantum esscntiam, sed essentiam imitabilem,” St. Bonaven¬ 
tura, 1 Sent., d.36, q.2, a.2 ad 1. 


likeness of God,” it does not follow that God as He is in Himself is just 
like or of the same kind as a man, but only that the form or idea of man 
is present to his consciousness and being, and, be it noted, there on equal 
terms with an amoeba. And it is in the same way that the human artist 
embodies the single form entertained in his intellect in other natures such 
as those of stone or pigment; the imago imaginans here as before being 
the formal cause of the becoming of the imago imaginata-, as is implied in 
the dictum ars imitatur naturam in sua operatione, where natura is “Na- 
tura Naturans, Creatrix, Deus.” 

In Kaus. Up. iv.2, “The macrocosm in the Sun, the likeness in the mir¬ 
ror” {dditye mahat . . . adar'se pratirupah), pratirupa is evidently imago 
imaginata. It is, in fact, as a reflection or projection and, as we shall see, 
expressively (srjyamana) that the eternal reasons or ideas ( ndmani) are 
represented in their contingent aspects (rupani) ; a formulation that im¬ 
plies the traditional doctrine of the correspondence of macrocosm and 
microcosm, as enunciated, for example, in AB vm.2, “Yonder world is 
in the likeness of ( anuriipa) this world, this world in the likeness of that,” 
a condition that is clearly exhibited in our diagram by the correspondence 
of circle with circle, point for point. In what manner the ideas are causal 
with respect to all their contingent aspects will be apparent when we re¬ 
call that the central consciousness is always thought of as a Light or 
Sound, of which the contingent forms on any circumference are projec¬ 
tions, reflections, expressions, or echoes thrown, as it were, upon the wall 
of Plato’s cave, or upon the screen of a theater, with only this difference, 
that the pattern or lantern slide which corresponds to the “form” or 
“idea” of the picture actually seen is not merely close to the source of 
light, but intrinsic to the light itself, so that we meet on the one hand 
with such expressions as “formal light” (Ulrich of Strassburg) and 
“image-bearing light” (Eckhart), and on the other such as VS v.35, “Thou 
art the omniform light” ( jyotir asi visvariipam )} 9 “He lent their light 
to other lights” ( adadhaj jyotisu jyotir antah, RV x.54.6), “Ye, Agnlsomau, 

18 In Scholastic philosophy, the nature of the divine exemplarism is constantly 
illustrated by means of the likeness of light, e.g., “which although it is numeri¬ 
cally one, nevertheless expresses many and different kinds of color” (St. Bonaven¬ 
tura, I Sent., d.35, a. unic., q.2 ad 2); “Exemplary cause, just as physical light is 
one in kind, which is nonetheless that of the beauty that is in all colors, which the 
more light they have the more beautiful they are, and of which the diversity is 
occasioned by the diversity of the surfaces that receive the light” (Ulrich of Strass- 
burg); see Coomaraswamy, "The Mediaeval Theory of Beauty” fin Vol- I of this 
edition— ed.] ; cf. Dante, Paradiso xxxm.82-90, “One simple Light, that in its depths 
encloses, as in a single volume, all that is scattered on the pages of the universe.” 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

found the single light for many”; and in the building of the fire altar, 
the brick laid down “for progeny” and representing Agni is called the 
“manifold light” ( visvajyotis, SB vnx.4.2.25-26). 


A subtle problem arises here. For what is meant by the assertion that 
“The Spirant is interminable, omniform, and yet no doer of anything” 
(anantas catma visvarupo hy a\arta, Svet. Up. 1.9), or, as Eckhart ex¬ 
presses it, by the apparent contradiction of the statements that “He works 
willy nilly” and “there no work is done at all”? In view of this, that all 
the personal powers may be described as reaching out to all things 
(visvaminva, RV passim, cf. 11.5.2, where Agni visvam invaii), what is 
meant by the assertion, “At the back of yonder heaven, 19 what they chant 
is an omniscient word compelling nothing” ( mantrayantc divo amusya 
prsthe vi'svavidam vdcarn avisvaminvam , RV 1.164.10, cf. 45), and why 
is the chariot of the Sun, although by nature directed everywhere (vi- 
suvrtam), also described as having no effect on anything ( avisvaminvam, 
RV 11.40.3) ? These questions have an important bearing on the problems 
of destiny and free will. As follows: the centrifugal procession of indi¬ 
vidual potentialities depends upon the central unity essentially; their be¬ 
coming, life, or spiration depends entirely upon the being and spiration of 
the Primal Spirant, in this sense, that the very existence of individual 
radii or rays becomes unthinkable if we abstract the central luminous 
point; 20 and this dependence is constantly asserted, for example, in the 
designation of Agni as “all-supporting” ( vitvambhara ). 

On the other hand, it is not the single form of all potentialities, making 
arbitrary dispositions (“Heaven gives no orders”), but the specific 21 form 

19 he., "In the world beyond the falcon,” JB 111.268, “there the Sun docs not 
shine” (Mund. Up. 11.2, to and KU v.15); in the divine darkness (lamas, passim)-, 
“Things belonging to the state of glory are not under the sun” (Sum. Theol., 
111.91.1), "One escapes altogether through the midst of the Sun” (JUB 1.3); “No 
man cometh to the Father save through me” (John 14:6), who as the Sun is the 
“gatew'ay of the worlds” (lokadvara, CU vm.6.6). 

20 In this case, that of pralaya absolutely, all things are returned to the condition 
of potentiality, and even the first assumption in Godhead, that of light or being, 
has not been made. The individual is then “drowned,” losing “name and aspect,” 
and, if a Comprehensor, is completely enlarged from all necessity without residual 
elements of existence; or if not wholly and consciously perfected, must await the 
opportunities of manifestation and experience in a succeeding aeon, when the 
dawning of another day again effects the Harrowing of Hell. 

21 Form, idea, reason, species, truth, virtue, and beauty, although not synonymous, 
are interchangeable terms in Scholastic exemplarism, because one at their source. 
Species, however, in this sense, does not imply a group within a genus, but what 



VEDIC EXEMPLARISM 

of each potentiality that determines each thing’s individual mode or char¬ 
acter, and gives to it its “proper likeness” (sva-rupam). In other words, 
God or Being is the common cause of the becoming of all things, but 
not immediately of the distinctions between them, which distinctions are 
determined by “the varying works inherent in the respective personali¬ 
ties” (Sankaracarya, on Vedanta Sutra 11.1, 32, 35); they are born ac¬ 
cording to the measure of their understanding ( yatha-prajnam, AA 
n.3.2); or, as more commonly implied in the Rg Veda, according to their 
several ends or purposes ( anta , artha ); “they live dependent on ( upaji- 
vanti) their such-and-such desired ends” (yam yam antam abhihamaix, 
CU vni.2.10). So it is said, “Now run ye forth your several ways” (pra 
nunam dhdvata prtha{, RV vm.ioo.7). 22 “In fine,” as Plotinus expresses 
it (iv.3.13 and 15), “the law is given in the entities upon whom it falls; 
these bear it about with them. Let but the moment arrive, and what it 
decrees will be brought to act by those beings in whom it resides; they 
fulfil it because they contain it; it prevails because it is within them; it 
becomes like a heavy burden, and sets up in them a painful longing to 
enter the realm to which they are bidden from within,” and thus “all 
diversity of condition in the lower spheres is determined by the descendant 
beings themselves." 28 

A doctrine of this kind, which makes each creature the source and 
bearer, not of its own being but of its own destiny (and this is what one 
means by “free will,” although this is in reality a state of bondage, viz. 
to the idiosyncracy of the individual will), is common to all tradition, 
and has been everywhere expressed in almost the same way: for example, 
“It is manifest that fate is in the created causes themselves” (Sum. Theol., 
1.116.2); “God’s being is bestowed on all creatures alike, only each receives 
it according to its receptivity” (Johannes Tauler, The Following of Christ, 
tr. J. K. Morrell, London, n.d., §154, p. 135); “As is the harmony, so also 
is the sound or tone of the eternal voice therein; in the holy, holy, in the 
perverse, perverse” (Jacob Boehme, Signatura rerum xvi.6-7); “formal 
light... of which the diversity is occasioned by the diversity of the sur- 


is individually specific, and similarly as regards goodness (or perfection) and beauty, 
things being good or beautiful in their kind (and there is only one of each kind), 
and not indefinitely. 

22 In this connection may be noted KU iv.14, “Just as water rained upon a lofty 
peak runs here and there (vidhavati), so one who sees the principles in multiplicity 
(dharmdny prtha\ pasyan) pursues after diem (anudhdvati)." 

2 “ “According to their receptive powers,” Dionysius, De divinis nominibus iv.i. 


186 


187 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

faces that receive the light” (Ulrich of Strassburg; see Plotinus, iv.4.8); 
for, as Macrobius says, unus fulgor illuminat, et in itniversis apparent in 
multis speculis (Somnium Scipionis 1.14). We find this point of view also 
in Islam: the creative utterance, \un, “Be,” causes or permits the positive 
existence of individuals, but in another sense (that of mode), they are 
causes of themselves “because Pie only wills what they have it in them 
to become (Ibnu 1 ‘Arab!, as cited by R. A. Nicholson, Studies in Islamic 
Mysticism, Cambridge, 1921, p. 151). 

That we do what we must is a matter of contingent necessity ( neces- 
situs coactionis), altogether distinct from the infallible necessity (necessi¬ 
tus infaliibilitatis) with which Pie who acts “willingly but not from will” 
(Eckhart), “does what must be done” (cabrih . . . yat barisyam, RV 
vn.20.1, cf. 1.165.9 and vi.9.3), viz - “ th ose things which God must will of 
necessity” (Sum. Theol. 1.45.2c); the individual is then only freed (mukta) 
to the extent that the private will to which he is in bondage consents to 
Hi- S w ho wills all things alike, a condition implied in RV v.46.1, his 
condition “who hath what he will, for whom the Spirit is his will, who 
doth not will” (dpta-{amam atma-\amam a/^amam, BU iv.3.21); as 
Boethius expresses it, “The nearer a thing is to the First Mind, the less it 
is involved in the chain of fate.” It is because these considerations can 
hardly be made intelligible without reference to the concept of the re¬ 
lation of the one and the many, proper to Exemplarism, that we have 
thought it proper to refer to the matter in the present connection. 

As to our rendering of atman: in the citation from Tauler, above, “be¬ 
ing” or “essence” corresponds to atman as the suppositum of accidents 
and sine qua non of all modality (-maya). We have experimented else¬ 
where with a rendering of atman by “essence,” but propose in future to 
adhere to a more strictly etymological equivalent, more especially inas¬ 
much as the atman doctrine in the Rg Veda must be considered in con¬ 
nection with x.129.2, anid avatam, equivalent to “at the same time atmya 
and anatmya," or “equally spirated, despirated.” The word atman, derived 
from an or vd, to “breathe” or “blow,” is, in fact, more literally “spirit,” 
spirant, or spiration, and hence “life.” 24 This Spirit or Gale (atman, prana, 

24 The translation of atman as “Self” is unsatisfactory in any case, and mainly 
for two reasons: (1) that it introduces an altogether unfamiliar terminology, one 
that lends itself to misunderstandings connected with the connotation “selfishness," 
and (2) that the reflexive use of atman, which underlies the rendering “Self,” 
hardly occurs in the Rg Veda. Atman is “spirit,” as this word is used, for example, 
in the trilogy, “body, soul, and spirit ( riipa , nama, atman).’’ 



VEDIC EXEMPLARISM 

vata. or vayu) is, as may be understood from what has been said above, 
the only property that can be shared and is thus apparently divided, as Be¬ 
ing amongst beings, the breath of life in breathing things; cf. BD 1.73, 
“Spiration (atman) is said to be the only participation (bhabtih) that can 
be attributed to the three great Lords of the World” (the functional 
Trinity). In RV 1.115.x, “The Sun, as being the spirant (atman) in all 
that is mobile or immobile, hath filled Midhome and Heaven and Earth” 
(the “Three Worlds,” the Universe); in x.121.2, “The Golden Germ 
(hiranyagarbha, Agni, the Sun, Prajapati) is the bestower of spiration” 
(atmada); Agni in this sense is “a hundred-fold spirant (satatma, RV 
1.149.3),” that is, he has innumerable lives or hypostases, as many, in fact, 
as there are living things (antar ayusi, RV 1v.58.11), to each of which he 
is a total presence (as can be clearly seen in our diagram), although as 
we have seen, each is but a participant (bha\ta) of his life, for though 
“all is offered, the recipient is able to take only so much” (Plotinus, 
vi.4.3). 25 In JUB 111.2-3, “Spiration (atman) both of Angels and mortals, 
Spiritus (atman) arisen from the sea, and which is yonder Sun” 20 may be 
read in connection with SB VI11.7.3.TO, “Yonder Sun connects (samdvay- 
atey these worlds by a thread (slitre) , 28 and what that thread is is the 
Gale” (vayuh) ; cf. ibid. 11.3.3.7, “* l ‘ s by I IB ra y s (rasmibhih) that all 
creatures are endowed with their spirations (prdnesu abhihitdh), and so 
it is that the rays extend downwards to these spirations.” These texts recall 
RV 1.115.1, cited above, and 111.29.11, “formed in the Mother, He is Ma- 
tarisvan (= Vayu, Spiritus) and becomes the draught of the Gale in its 
course” (vatasya sargah)-, cf. vn.87.2, “The Gale that is thy breath (atma 
te vatah) thunders through the Firmament . . . and in these spheres of 
Earth and lofty Heaven are all those stations dear to thee.” In RV x.168.4, 
“This Angel, the spiration of the Angels (atma devanam), Germ of the 
World (bhuvanasya garbha = Hiranyagarbha) moves as He will (yatha 

2 '' “All beings are not their own being, but beings by participation” (Sum. Theol. 
1.44.1c); “Creation is the emanation of all being from the Universal Being" (ibid. 
■- 45-4 ad 1); [but (ibid. 1.45.1c), “Creation is the emanation of all being from the 
Nonbeing, which is nothing." Also, “To create is to make something out of noth- 
,n S ; and 1.45.4 ad 3, “Creation is the creation of Being, and not only of matter.” 
Cf- BU 11.1.20 and CU vi.10.2, “All creatures have come forth from sat."] 

Cf. ibid, m.32, where the Angel’s omniformity (sarvam riipam) is illustrated 
hy the five exemplata, “and what his single form is, is the Spirit (tad etad e\am. 
eva riipam prana eva) 

Samavaga is “perpetual co-inherence,” and in the symbolism based on weaving 
Is illustrated by the relation of thread to the cloth. 

The doctrine of the “thread-breath” (sutrdtman) recurs in BG vu.7, cf. x.21. 


188 


189 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

va’sam ), 29 His sound (ghost ) 30 is heard but never his likeness ( rupam), 
so let us offer with oblation to the Gale ( vataya).” 

Similarly in later texts: “For that sharing out his spiration, or himself 
(atmanam vibhajya, cf. bha\ti in BD 1.73), He fills these worlds, it is 
said that as indeed sparks from fire and as light rays from the sun, so 
from Him in the course of his procession (yatha \ramanena) the spira- 
tions and other powers of perception (pranadayah) go forth again and 
again” (abhyuccar anti punahpunar, MU vi.26). Much later: “That (viz. 
the principle, tattva , called Sadasiva, the ‘Eternal Siva’) becomes by in¬ 
version ( viparyayena) 81 and in the splendor of its practical power (\riyd- 

*' > ' The wind bloweth as it listcth,” etc. (John 3:8). Cf. Prose Edda, Gylfi 18, 
He is so strong that he rears great seas, but strong though he be, yet may he not 
be seen, therefore is he surely wonderfully shapen”; and Rural, Divan, ■'Foamed 
the sea (ah, Skr. up), and at every foam-fleck, something took figure and something 
was bodied forth” (Ode 19); “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the 
waters” (Genesis). 

80 Ghota is to be noted here, as the "voice” of the Gale. This Ghosa is the mother 
of Hiranyahasta, Savitr, the Sun, and one with Vadhriman and Vac: cf. RV 
11 i 6 -i 3 and vi.62.7, where the Asvins hear the call of Ghosa, the soughing of the 
dawn-wind (vasarha vdlah, RV 1.122.3) of creation, the breath of VSc, "Whose 
breathing is the Gale, whenas I take in hand to shape the several worlds” (vata 
iva pravami, etc., RV x.125.8). 

31 "By inversion” or "by revolution” ( viparyayena) involves the notions of the 
“face” and "back” of God—the Janus symbolism—and is reminiscent of RV iv.1.2, 
Do thou,, Agni, turn round thy brother Varuna ( bhrdtaram varunam agne a 
vavrtsva) ,” and thus, indeed, “the kingdom is reversed” ( paryavart rdstram , RV 
x.124.4), dominion passing from the “Father” or "Elder Brother” to the "Son” 
or Younger Brother" (both relations as well as that of consubstantiality are predi¬ 
cated of Varutja and Agni in the Rg Veda). 

It is the “rotation” of this central principle, "the axle-point on which the aevi- 
ternal, substances depend” (drum na rathyam amrtddhi tasthuh, RV 1.35.6)— 
Dante’s "il punto dello stelo al cui la prima rota va dintorno”—that initiates the 
revolution of the Wheel of the Year, “mounted whereupon the Angels move round 
all the worlds” (KB xx.i). It must not, however, be overlooked that the "rota¬ 
tion” of a point means nothing secundum rent-, the unique center, though the 
prime mover, is by no means the primum mobile, but in itself immoveable. It is 
only when the radii arc projected and circles struck, that is, when diremption of 
essence and nature has taken place, that we are given the two points d'appui in¬ 
dispensable for leverage and local motion, and only from' an exterior point of 
view that we can speak of a rotation of the axle-point, or distinguish “face” and 
“back” in the Supreme Identity ( tad e\am)-. it is the felly, not the axle-point, that 
actually turns, impelled by the will to life in individual principles. That is why at 
the same time that the Supreme Identity is spoken of as turning from interior 
(guhya) to exterior (avis) operation (vrata) at will (yatha vasam), the Rg Veda 
also treats of the separation of Heaven and Earth, that is to say of creation, as 
being effected by the several desirous principles, whose co-creative acuvity—the 



VEDIC EXEMPLARISM 

sakty-aujjvalaye, cf. ujjvalati in MU vi.26) the form of the universal demi¬ 
urge of things in their manifested likeness ( vyaktd\ara-visvdnusamdhatr - 
rupam), and this is the principle called ‘Lord’” (i Uvara-tattvam , Ma- 
hdrtha-manjari xv, Commentary) ; 32 virtually identical with the formula¬ 
tion of Philo, according to whom “two powers are first distinguished 
(o-xi(omt) from the Logos, viz. a poetic, according to which the artist 
ordains all things and which is called God; and the royal power of Him 
called the Lord, by which He controls all things.” 33 

From all of the foregoing passages it is evident that as in Scholastic and 
Neoplatonic, so also in the Vedic tradition, it is a formal light that is the 
cause of the being and becoming of all things (as light, the cause of their 
being, as formal the cause of their becoming); the fontal raying of this 
primal light seeming to be an actual expression or emanation ( srsti ) and 
local motion ( caranam , gati), although really this Agni, even while “He 
proceedeth foremost, still remains in his ground” (anvagram carati bjeti 
budhnah, RV 111.55.7), “While yet abiding in the Germ, He is repeatedly 
born” (RV vm.43.9); cf. Plotinus (iv-3.13), “abiding intact above, while 
giving downwards,” and Eckhart, “The Son remains within as Essence 


operation of “mediate causes”—is brought forward in the first and subsequent 
sacrifices, by which the unitary principle is intellectually contracted and identified, 
as, for example, in x.114.5, “By their wordings they made him logically manifold 
who is but One,” and x.90.11 and 14, “They subdivided the Person . . . thought 
out the worlds," and thus in fact by their thousand years’ session “expressed every¬ 
thing" (visvam asrjata, PB xxv.18.2). It is just because of the distinction of these 
two points of view (secundum rem and secundum rationcm intelligendi sive di- 
ccndi) that one can ask in brahmodaya, as in RV x.129.7, whether, indeed, the 
world was expressed from within or determined from without. 

The ontology of RV x.90.14, lo\an a\alpayan, and x.114.5, bahudha \alpayanti, 
is preserved in Lan\avatara Sutra m.77, "The being of the three worlds is con¬ 
ceptual (vi\alpa-matram), without external validity (bdhyamartham na vidyale); 
it is as a concept that it is seen pictorially (vi\alpam drsyate citram)" 

32 Kashmir Series XI (Bombay, 1918), 44; rupam is here imago imaginans. Other 
instances of the persistence of the exemplarist concept in later literature may be 
cited in the Kadambari (Parab’s cd., Bombay, 1928, p. 10), where King Sudraka 
is compared to God, “whose abundance (vasatd, cf. Vedic Vasu, Vasistha) displays 
the likeness of every form” (pra\atita-visvarupdkrteh), and in Sakuntala 11.9, 
where the heroine is so beautiful that she seems to have been “intellectually created 
ky Brahma” (manasa krta vidhina), to be, that is, rather a divine idea than a 
mundane actuality. 

33 Emile Brehier, Les Idees philosophiques ct religieuses de Philon d’Alexandrie 
(Paris, 1925), p. 1x3. “Two powers,” i.e., spiritual and temporal, brahma and 
ksatra. 


190 


191 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


and goes forth as Person . . . other, but not another, for this distinction 
is logical (Skr. vikalpam), not real (Skr. sat yam)." 

As Plotinus expresses it (vi.4.3), “Under the theory of procession by 
powers, 34 souls are described as rays.” 35 In other words, the animating 
(; jinva , codana, sava) principle is both a living and a vocal power, and the 
light of the world. Ayu, “Life,” and Visvayu, “Universal Life,” are 
constant epithets of Agni, who is “the one life of the Angels” (asur ekam 
devdnam , RV x.121.7) and “the only guardian of being” ( bhutasya . . . 
patir e\ah , ibid. 1), and manifests himself as Light ( jyotis , bhana, ar\a, 
etc.), whether of the Fire-flash or the Supernal Sun; brahmana vacah 
parama vyoma, TS vn.4.18. As in John 1:1-3, “In principio erat verbum, 
et verbum erat apud Deum, et Deum erat verbum . . . Omnia per ipsum 
facta sunt . . . Quod factum est in ipso vita erat; et vita erat lux homi- 
num.” 86 

This equivalence of life, light, and sound must be taken into account 
when we consider the causal relationship of Vedic nama , “name” or 
“noumenon,” to rupa, “phenomenon” or “figure,” which is that of ex¬ 
emplary cause to exemplatum-, for while nama involves the concept 
primarily of thought or sound, rupa involves the concept primarily of 
vision. Not that light and sound are strictly speaking synonymous (for 
though they refer to one and the same thing, they do so under different 

34 “Powers,” in Skr. saci, sakti, svadha, vibhuti, kyatra, etc. “It is the manifesta¬ 
tion of their (the devas') powers that their names are various" (BD 1.71). 

35 Cf. MU vi.26, as cited above. In Christian iconography, in representations of 
the Annunciation, the Spirit (dove) moves on the path of a ray that extends from 
the Supernal Sun to the Virgin, while in representations of the Nativity a similar 
ray (which is in fact coincident with the axis of the universe, the trunk of the 
Tree of Life, Gnostic orawpos, and the “one foot” of the Sun) connects the Bam¬ 
bino with the Sun. Even in the case of ordinary conceptions the Spirit is the 
animating power, Sum. Theol. hi, q.32, a.i, agreeing with KB 111.3, "It is spira- 
tion (prana), verily the conscious Spirit ( prajnatman ) that grasps and quickens 
the flesh.” 

36 According to a variant text (cf. Augustine, Confessions vu.9), “quod factum 
est, in eo vita est, et vita erat lux hominum,” i.c., ‘There is life in what was made, 
and this life was the light of men.” Sec also Rene Guenon, “Verbum, Lux, et 
Vita,” Le Voile d’Isis, XXXIX (1934), 173, and P. Mus, “Le Buddha pare,” BIsFEO, 
XXVIII (1928), 236, n. 4, “la voix et la lumiere . . . deux manifestations connexes 
d’une mcme nature transccndente.” It may be noted that in RV x.168.4, cited above, 
one and the same verb srnvirc , “is heard,” is employed in connection with both 
sound and appearance; while alternatively in 1.164.44, one and the same verb dadr'se, 
“seen,” is similarly employed. [“La parole est vie, elle possede toute vie, ellc est toute 
vie” (Willem Caland and Victor Henry, L’Agnistoma (Paris, 1906-1907), I, 232, 
quoting Asvalayanasrautasutra v.9.1).] 


192 


VEDIC EXEMPLARISM 


aspects), but that the utterance fiat lux and the manifestation lux erat 
by no means imply a temporal succession of events; the utterance ( vy - 
dhrti) of names and the appearance of the worlds is simultaneous, and, 
strictly speaking, eternal. 37 Thus we find in JUB 111.33 that “The Sun is 
sound; therefore they say of the Sun, ‘He proceeds resounding’” (ya 
adityassvara eva sah , tasmad etam adityam ahus, svara etiti): the hum¬ 
ming of the world wheel is the music of the spheres. It is, in fact, hardly 
possible to distinguish the roots svar , to “shine” (whence surya, “sun”), 
and svr, to “sound” or “resound” (whence svara, “musical note”) and 
also in some contexts to “shine.” The like applies in the case of root arc, 
which means either to “shine” or to “intone,” and to its derivatives such 
as arka, which may mean either “sheen” or “hymn.” There is also a close 
connection, and was probably an original coincidence, of the roots bhd 
to “shine” and bhan to “speak." Even in English we still speak of “bright” 


ideas and “brilliant” sayings. 

The shining of the Supernal Sun is then as much an “utterance” as a 
“raying”; he, indeed, “speaks” ( mitro . . . bhruvanah, RV m.59.1; 
vn.36.2; 1.92.6), and what he has to say is “that great and hidden name 
(nama guhyam ) of multiple effect ( puruspr\ ), whereby thou dost pro¬ 
duce all that has come to be or shall become” (RV x.55.2) (“The Father 
spoke himself and all creatures in the Word, to all creatures in the Son,” 
Eckhart). The name or form of the thing is thus prior—prior, that is, in 
hierarchy rather than in time—to the thing itself, and is its raison d’etre, 
whether as pattern or as name; and it is accordingly as an expression 
(srsti) or utterance (vydhrti) that the thing itself is manifested or evoked; 
“in the beginning this universe was unuttered” (avyahrti, MU vi.6). 

In the concluding paragraphs of the present essay we shall accordingly 
assemble certain of the Vedic texts in which the doctrine is explicit or 
implicit that the utterance of a name is of creative efficacy. For example, 
“He by the names of the four (seasons) has set in motion his ninety 
coursers, as a rounded wheel” (RV 1.155.6), viz. the Wheel of the Year, 
as made up of four ninety-day seasons; it is “by those four titan names 
immaculate (asuryani namadabhyani . . . yebhih), that He well knows, 
that thou, Indra, hast performed all thy mighty deed” (\armdni cakartha. 


37 That is to say “now”; that “now” of which a temporal experience is impossible, 
being only of a past and a future, and where becoming never stops to be. We have 
discussed elsewhere (The Rg Veda as Land-Nama-Boh, 1935) the proposidon 
enunciated by Sayana and others that the Veda deals only with what is eternal 
(nit-yam), and shall return to the subject. 


193 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

RV x.54.4; cf. 111.38.4, x.73.8); it is after these hidden names that the 
maker of all things names, that is, creates, the Angels, being devanam 
namadhah, RV x.82.3; it is by recourse to Agni that these Angels “get 
for themselves those names by which they are worshipped sacrificially, and 
thus contrive their own well-born embodiment” ( namani . . . dadhire 
yajhiyany, asudayanta tanvah sujdtah, RV 1.72.3) ; 38 it is inasmuch as he 
“knows the distant hidden names ( apicyd veda namani guhya) that 
Varuna propagates the multiplicity of notions of created things ( kfivyd 
puru . . . pusyati), even as Heaven (i.e., the Sun) propagates their as¬ 
pect ( rupam ),” 3I> which “notions of created things” ( havya = \avi- 
\armdni, sec n. 4) “inhere in him as hub within the wheel” (RV vm.41.5 
and 6). The productive activity of the co-creative principles is similarly 
nominative ( namadheyam dadhanah, RV x.71.1) ; i0 “What was the 
bovine virtue ( sakmyam goh, cf. sagmyena, 111.31.x) of the Bull and Cow, 

36 Here the sequence of ideas corresponds to that implied in the Scholastic dictum, 
“the soul is the form of the body.” 

30 As in RV v.81.2, where the Sun vi'sva riipani prati muheate; “He illumines 
(bhdsayati) these worlds . . . incarnadines (ratijayati) existences here” (MU vi.7); 
“This supremely pure splendor of the impartible essence illumines all things at 
once ... the patent of his power, resplendent in luminous detail” (Eckhart). 

10 Cf. CU vi.1.4, "Modification is a matter of wording, a giving of names to 
things” (vacarambhanam vikaro namadheyam, reminiscent also of RV x.125.8, 
where the Word, Vac, speaks of herself as arambhamana bhuvan'ani ; arambha has 
been defined as evocation, "mental initiation of action”). It is on the basis of the 
magical efficacy of enunciation that the employment of words of power in ritual 
depends: for example, PB '’1.9.5, “By saying 'born’ (jatam iti), he brings to birth 
( jtjanat ),” and ibid, vt.10.3, “ ln saying ‘lives’ he puts life into them that live.” 
Cf. Lan\dvatara Sutra, vi, p. 228, “When names are enunciated, there is the 
manifestation of appearance ( nimittabhivyahja\am), there is concept ( vikalpah ).” 

The doctrine of ideas, inseparable from that of exemplarism, recurs in traditional 
teachings at all times. As remarked by E. Gilson, “Le mot idee remonte a Platon, 
mais la chose elle-meme existait avant lui, puisqu’elle est eternelle. On doit d’ailleurs 
supposer que d’autres hommes les avaient connues avant lui, de quelque nom 
ils les aient designees, car il y eut des sages antcricuremcnt a Platon et en dehors 
meme de la Grece, et il n’y a pas de sagesse sans la connaissance des idees” ( Intro¬ 
duction a l’etude de Saint Augustin, Paris, 1929, p. 257). The doctrine, for ex¬ 
ample, appears already in the Sumero-Babylonian conception of creation as a 
terminology or determination, for “the Babylonians regarded the name of a thing 
as its reality ... to name a thing practically means in their theology to determine 
its essence" (Stephen Langdon, Sumerian Epic, Philadelphia, 1915, pp. 39-40, cf. 
idem, Semitic Mythology, Boston, 1931, pp. 91, 289). In the Clementine Homilies, 
in connection with the doctrine of the True Prophet, similar to the Indian “Eternal 
Avatar,” we find with reference to Adam’s calling of things by their names, “He 
himself, being the only true prophet, fittingly gave names to each animal, according 
to the merits of its nature, as having made it.” 


VEDIC EXEMPLARISM 


that they measured out by names ( a namabhih mamire), making a mani¬ 
fested image in it” (ni . . . mamire rupam asmin, RV m.38.7), “Then 
verily they recollected ( amanvat ) the distant name ( nama . . . apicyam, 
admirably rendered by Griffith’s ‘essential form’) of Tvastr’s Cow within 
the mansion of the Moon” (RV 1.84.15), “When he (the Sun) upstood, 
all things him adorned; who moves self-luminous, indued in glory; that 
is the Bull’s, the Titan’s mighty form, it is the Omniform who takes 
his stand upon his aeviternities” ( mahat tad vrsno asurasya nama, a visva- 
riipo amrtani tasthau, RV 111.38.4, where Visvarupa must be Tvastr, and 
amrtani, pi., contrasts with an implied anantatva in or as which the 
Asura lies recumbent, ante principium ); “The Son (the Sun) in Heaven’s 
light determines the Father-Mother’s third hidden name” ( dadhati putrah 
pitror apicyam nama trtiyam adhi rocane divah, ix.75.2, where dadhati ... 
nama is the same as to be namadhah in x.82.3, as c hed above); and all 
this is at the same time a creative recollection in the Platonic sense, as in 
RV x.63.8, where the Visve Devah are “mindful of all that is mobile or 
immobile” ( visvasya sthatur jagatas ca mantavah). It is “by wordings” 
(vacobhih) that they “think Him out as manifold who is but One” 11 
(RV x.114.5); that He, indeed, appears at all depends upon the ritual in¬ 
cantation, “And sundry sang, they brought to mind the Great Chant, 
whereby they made the Sun to shine” 12 ( arcanta e\e mahi sama manvata, 
etc., RV vni.29.10); “by an angelic utterance they opened up the cattle 
fold” ( vacasadaivyena , etc., RV iv.i.i5). ls 


11 That this is possible depends on His Protean nature, who is "omniform” 
[visvarupa, passim), and is “man-made” in the sense that He assumes the forms 
that are imagined by His worshippers. 

42 "For that God is God he gets from creatures. . . . Before creatures were, God 
was not God” (Eckhart). 

43 Intellect being identical with its noumenal content, the intellectual creation 
so often referred to in Vedic tradition is essentially the same thing as a creation 
by the utterance of a name or names. The intellectual creation is typically per 
artem, as for example in RV 1.20.2, “they wrought by intellect” ( tata\sur manasa), 
where \/ ta\s implies the use of an axe on wood, viz. that “wood from which they 
fashioned Heaven and Earth,” RV x.31.7. The intellectual operation is, moreover, 
strictly speaking a conception; what is formulated in the “heart” by the applica- 
tion of manas to vac is literally a generation and a vital operation; as in BU 1.5,7, 
. Fa dier is manas (intellect), the Mother vac (Word), the Child prana (life).” 
I e new born Kumara (Agni) demands a name, for it is “by name that evil is 
smitten away,” i.e., by name that there is procedure from potentiality to act, SB 

’•t.3.0-9.] In RV x.71.2 there may be noted the expression manasa vacam akrata-. 
manasa ly being parallel to haste or panau \r, to “marry,” where \r, to “make,” 
Su 3 r/* Ue corn P ara Bl e 10 that of “make” in the modern erotic vernacular. Cf. 

m - ‘eol. 1.45.6c, where the artist is said to operate by a word conceived in his 


194 


195 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


VEDIC EXF.MPLARISM 


The “names” or noumena of things are, moreover, everlasting, and 
in this respect unlike the things themselves in their contingent manifes¬ 
tation: “When a man dies, what does not go out of him is his name 
( nama\ similarly BU m.1.9, manas), that is endless ( ananta ), and inas¬ 
much as what is endless is the Several Angels, thereby he wins accordingly 
the endless world ( anantam lofam)," BU in.2.12; in other words, his 
name is “written in the Book of Life.” From the point of view of the de¬ 
sirous principles, in potentia but eager to be in act, the possession of a 
“name” and corresponding entity is naturally the great desideratum, 44 
and what they most fear is to be “robbed of their names”; cf. RV v.44.4, 
“Krivi in the forest steals away their names (\rivir namdni pravane mu- 
say ati ).” 

On the other hand, it must not be overlooked that individuation and 
identification are specific limitations, implying the possession of only a 
particular ensemble of possibilities to the exclusion of all others. “Speech 
(vac) is the cord, and names ( namdni ) the knots whereby all things are 
bound” (AA 11.1.6). Liberation ( mu\ti ), then, as distinguished from 
salvation, is something other than a perpetual and ideal being still oneself 
and, as it were, a part of the world picture; liberation in the fullest sense 
of the word is a liberation not merely from phenomenal becoming, but 
from any noumenal determination whatever. 45 The cycle that must for 
the Wayfarer begin with the audition or the finding of a name, must for 
the Comprehensor end in silence, where no names are spoken, none is 
named, and none remembered. There knowledge-of, which would imply 
division, is lost in the coincidence of knower and known, “as a man 
locked in the embrace of a dear bride knows naught of a within or a 
without” (BU iv.3.21); There “none has knowledge of each who enters, 
that he is so-and-so or so-and-so” (Rum!); the prayer of the soul is an¬ 


intellect (per verbum in intcllectu conceptum), that is, like the Father and Divine 
Architect, per artem and cx voluntate , both with knowledge and with will; the 
consciousness of the artist being in either case a conjoint principle, and the “work” 
(\arma) the artist’s child. 

44 Hence the distress of the Devas at Agni’s hesitation in RV x.51, and their 
corresponding fear when the Buddha, who is the same as Agni usarbudh, hesitates 
to set in motion the Wheel of Order, by which the Way is to be opened for them 
to proceed. 

45 “Released from form or aspect ( namarupad-vimuktah ), the Comprehensor 
reaches thus the heavenly Person beyond the yon, knowing the ultimate Brahman, 
he indeed becomes the Brahman” (Mund. Up. m.2.8-9; [padam gacchanty ana- 
mayam, BG 11.51]). 

196 


swered, “Lord, my welfare lies in thy never calling me to mind” (Eck- 
hart). If what of the Supreme Identity is manifestable appears to us to be 
contrasted into variety and individualized, the doctrine of Exemplarism, 
common to both the Eastern and the Western forms of a common tradi¬ 
tion, exhibits the relation of this apparent multiplicity to the unity on 
which it hangs, and apart from which its being would be a pure nonen¬ 
tity; and furthermore, inasmuch as the last end must be the same as the 
first beginning, the way is pointed out that leads again from multiplicity 
to unity, from the semblance to reality. As in AA 11.3.8.3, 4, “The Makers, 
laying aside the Yes and No, what’s ‘blunt’ and what is veiled of speech, 16 
have found their quest; they that were held in bond by names are now 
beatified in that which was revealed; they now rejoice in what had been 
revealed by name, in that in which the host of Angels cometh to be one; 
putting away all evil by this spiritual power, the Comprehensor reaches 
Paradise.” 47 

48 I.e., abandoning all dialectic; cf. BU 111.5, "laying aside both innocence and 
learning, then is he a Silent Sage.” Krura and ulbanismi, rendered tentatively 
by “blunt" and “veiled,” seem to imply pratyafoam and paro\sam —all that is 
formal, no longer significant for one to whom the content of all form is immedi¬ 
ately present. 

47 The text is difficult, but there can be no doubt that Keith correctly explains 
that it means "they rose above mere names to the unity of brahman or prana.” 
Cf. \hila (=nida), RV iv.10.1, and yatra vi'svam bhuvaty ebanidam, “Where all 
abides in one nest,” Narayana Up. 3, previously cited. 


197 


DOCTRINE OF “'SILENCE' 



The Vedic Doctrine of “Silence” 


Then only will you see it, when you cannot speak of it; for 
the knowledge of it is deep silence, and suppression of the 
senses. Hermes, Lib. X.5 


The general significance of “silence” in connection with rites, myths, and 
mysteries has been admirably discussed by Rene Guenon in 'Etudes tradi- 
tionelles} Here we propose to cite other, more specific details from the 
Vedic tradition. It must be premised that the Supreme Identity (tad 
e\am) is not merely in itself “without duality” ( advaita ), but when con¬ 
sidered from another and external point of view is an identity of many 
different things. By this we do not mean only that a first unitary principle 
transcends the reciprocally related pairs of opposites ( dvandvau ) that can 
be distinguished on any level of reference as contraries or known as con¬ 
tradictories; but rather that the Supreme Identity, undetermined even by 
a first assumption of unity, subsumes in its infinity the whole of what can 
be implied or represented by the notions of the infinite and the finite, of 
which the former includes the latter, without reciprocity. 2 On the other 
hand, the finite cannot be excluded or isolated from or denied to the in¬ 
finite, since an independent finite would be in itself a limitation of the 
infinite by hypothesis. The Supreme Identity is, therefore, inevitably repre- 

[This essay was published in Indian Culture , III (1937)-— ED -J 

1 Rene Guenon, “Organisations initiatiques et societes secretes,” and “Du Secret 
initiatique,” Le Voile d’lsis (1934), pp- 349 and 429; “Mythes, mysteres et symboles," 
Lc Voile d'lsis (1935), p- 385. Since 1936 Le Voile d'lsis has been published as 
Etudes traditionelles. 

2 “The Infinite ( aditih) is Mother, Sire, and Son, whatever hath been born, 
and the principle of birth, etc.” (RV 1.89.10); "Nothing is changed in the im¬ 
movable Infinite ( ananta ) by the emanation or the withdrawals of worlds” (Bhas- 
kara, Bijaganita [Benares, 1927], repeating the thought of AV x.8.29 and BU v.i, that 
"Though plenum ( pirnam ) be taken from plenum, plenum yet remains.”). The in¬ 
clusion of the finite in the Infinite is expressly formulated in AA 11.3.8, “A is 
Brahman, the ego ( aham) is within it.” 

On the relation of unity to multiplicity see Coomaraswamy, “Vedic Exemplarism’ 
[in the present volume— ed.]. 



sented in our thought under two aspects, both of which are essential to 
the formation of any concept of totality secundum ram. So we find it said 
of Mitravarunau ( apara and para Brahman, God and Godhead) that from 
one and the same seat they behold “the finite and the infinite” ( aditim 
ditim ca, RV 1.62.8); where, of course, it must be borne in mind that in 
divinis to “see” is the same as to “know” and to “be.” Or in like manner, 
but substituting the notion of spiration for that of manifestation, it can 
be said that “That One is equally spirated, despirated” ( tad ekam anid 
avatam, RV x.129.2); or is at the same time “Being and Nonbeing” (sa- 
dasat, RV x.5.7). 3 

The same conception, expressed in terms of utterance and silence, is 
clearly formulated in RV 11.43.3, “Whether, O Bird, thou utterest weal 
aloud, or sittest silent ( tusnim ), think on us with favor.”* And similarly 
in the ritual, we find that rites are performed either with or without 
enunciated formulae, and that lauds are offered either vocally or silently; 
for which the texts also provide an adequate explanation. Here it must 
be premised that the primary purpose of the Vedic Sacrifice ( yajna) is 
to effect a reintegration of the deity conceived of as spent and disinte¬ 
grated by the act of creation, and at the same time that of the sacrificer 
himself, whose person, considered in its individual aspect, is evidently 
incomplete. The mode of reintegration is by means of initiation (di/^sa) 
and symbols (pratif^a, a!{rti), whether natural, constructed, enacted, or 
vocalized; the sacrificer is expected to identify himself with the sacrifice 
itself and thus with the deity whose primordial self-sacrifice it represents, 
“the observance of the rule thereof being the same as it was at the crea- 


3 The “distinct operations” (vivrata), interior and exterior (lira or guhya, and 
avis), of the Supreme Identity are represented by many other pairs, e.g., order 
and disorder (cosmos and chaos), life and death, light and darkness, sight and blind¬ 
ness, waking and sleep, potency and impotence, motion and rest, time and eternity, 
etc. It may be observed that all of the negative terms represent privations or evils 
if considered empirically, but absence of limitation, and good, when considered 
anagogically—the negative concept including the positive, as cause includes effect. 
[This is further illustrated by the two natures, niruktanirupta, mortal and immortal, 
like Mitravarunau in RV 1.164.38, the two Brahmans in BU n.3.1, Prajapati in 8B 
x.1.3.2.] 


1 ^ x.27.21, “Beyond what is heard here, there is another sound” ( srava 

' ena paro anyad asti) ; 1.164.10, “At the back of yonder Heaven the gods incant 
an omniscient word without outgoing effect” ( mantrayante . . . visvavidam vacant 
avisvaminvam) ; JUB m.7-9, where the initiate ( diksitah , regarded as one dead 
0 1 e ))“ or ld) is said to utter a “nonhuman” word ( amanusim vacant) or “brahma- 
ictum (brahmavadyam) . Nothing but an echo of the veritable Word can be heard 
or understood by human ears. 


198 


199 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

tion.” A clear distinction is drawn between those who may be merely 
“present” and those who “really” participate in the ritual acts which are 
performed on their behalf. 

As already stated, there are certain acts that are performed with a vocal 
accompaniment and others silently. For example, in SB vn.2.2.13-14 and 
2.3.3, * n connection with the preparation of the Fire-altar, certain fur¬ 
rows arc ploughed and certain libations made with an accompaniment 
of spoken words, and others silently—“Silently ( tusnim ), for what is 
silent is undeclared ( aniru\tam ), and what is undeclared is everything 
(sarvam). . . . This Agni (Fire) is Prajapati, and Prajapati is both de¬ 
clared ( niru\tah) and undeclared, bounded ( parimitah) and unbounded. 
Now whatever he does with spoken formulae (yajusa), thereby he in¬ 
tegrates ( sams\aroti) that form of his which is declared and bounded; 
and whatever he does silently, thereby he integrates that form of his 
which is undeclared and unbounded. Verily, whoever as a comprehensor 
thereof does thus, he integrates the whole totality ( sarvam hrtsnam) of 
Prajapati; the ab extra forms ( bahyani rupdni) are declared, the ab intra 
forms ( antardni rupdni) are undeclared.” An almost identical passage 
appears in SB xiv.1.2.18; and in vi.4.1.6 there is another reference to the 
performance of a rite in silence: “He spreads the black antelope skin 
silently, for it is the Sacrifice, the Sacrifice is Prajapati, and Prajapati is 
undeclared.” 

In TS m.1.9, the first libations are drawn off silently ( updnsu ), the 
latter with noise ( upabdim ), and “thus one bestows upon the deities 
the glory that is theirs, and upon men the glory that is theirs, and becomes 
divinely glorious amongst the deities and humanly glorious amongst 
men.” 

In AB n.31-32, the Devas, unable to overcome the Asuras, are said to 
have “seen” the “silent laud” (tusnim sansam apasyam), and this the 
Asuras could not follow. This “silent laud” is identified with what are 
called the “eyes of the rowa-pressings, by means of which the Compre¬ 
hensor reaches the Light-world.” There is a reference to “these Eyes of 
soma, by which eyes of contemplation (dhi) and intellect ( manas ) we 
behold the Golden” ( hiranyam , RV 1.139.2, to wit, Hiranyagarbham, the 
Sun, the Truth, Prajapati, as in x.121). It may be observed in this con¬ 
nection that, like the wine of other traditions, the soma partaken of is 
not the very elixir (rasa, amrta) of life, but a symbolic liquor—“Of what 
the Brahmans understand by ‘soma,' none ever tastes, none tastes who 
dwells on earth” (RV x.85.3-4): it is “by means of the priest, the initia- 

200 



DOCTRINE OF “SILENCE” 

tion, and the invocation” that the temporal power partakes of the sem¬ 
blance of the spiritual power (brahmano rupam), AB vu.31. 0 Here the 
distinction between the soma actually and the soma theoretically partaken 
of is analogous to that between the spoken words of the ritual and that 
which cannot be expressed in words, and similarly analogous to the 
distinction between the visible representation and the “picture that is not 
in the colors” ( Lan\dvatara Sutra 11.118). 

The well-known orison in RV x.189, addressed to the Serpent Queen 
(sarpardjni) who is at once the Dawn, Earth, and Bride of the Sun, is 
also known as the “mental chant” (manasa stotra), evidently because it is, 
as explained in TS vn.3.1, “chanted mentally” ( manasa 6 stuvate), and 
this just because it is within the power of the intellect (manas) not 
merely to encompass this (imam, i.e., the finite universe) in a single mo¬ 
ment, but also to transcend it, not only to contain (paryaptum) but also 
to environ (paribhavitum) it. And in this way, by means of what has 
previously been enunciated vocally (vacd) and what is afterwards enun¬ 
ciated mentally, “both (worlds) are possessed and obtained.” Precisely 
the same is implied in SB n.1.4.29, where it is said that whatever has not 
been obtained by the preceding rites is now obtained by means of the 
Sarparajnl verses, recited, as is evidently taken for granted, mentally 
and silently; and thus the whole (sarvam) is possessed. Similarly in KB 
xiv.i, where the two first parts of the Ajya are the “silent murmur” 
(tusnim-japah) and the “silent laud” (tusnim-sansa), “He recites in- 
audibly, for the attainment of all desires,” it being understood, of course, 
that the vocalized chant pertains to the attainment only of temporal goods. 

It may be noted, too, that the correspondence of the spoken words 
to the exterior and those unspoken to the interior forms of deity, cited 
above, is in perfect agreement with the formulation of AB 1.27, where 
when the soma has been bought from the Gandharvas (types of Eros, 
armed with bows and arrows, who are the guardians of Soma, ab intra) 

5 AA n.3.7, “By means of the form of Yonder-one one has being in this world" 
(amuno rupenemam lokam abhavati) ; the converse, “by means of this (human) 
form one is wholly reborn in that world" is stated here, and also in 11.3.2 where 
a person” (purusa) is distinguished from the animal ( pa'sa) in that he “by die 
mortal seeks the immortal, that is his perfection.” For example, in AB vu.31, cited 
above, it is by means of the nyagrodha shoots that the representative of the tem¬ 
poral power partakes of soma metaphysically (paro\sena) . This doctrine of “transub- 
stantiation” is similarly enunciated in SB xn.7.3.ir, “By faith he makes the surd 
Jo be soma',' cf. SB xn.8.1.5 and xu.8.2.2. See also Coomaraswamy, “Angel and 
'* an: An Essay in Vedic Ontology,” 1935, p. 382, n. 12. 

Hence Manasa Devi, the modern Bengali designation of the Serpent Goddess. 

201 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


DOCTRINE OF “SILENCE’ 


at the price of the Word {vac, fern., called here “the Great Naked One” 
—the Nude Goddess—and represented in the rite by a virgin heifer), it 
is prescribed that the recitative is to be performed in silence ( upan'su ) 
until she has been redeemed from them, that is to say, so long as she re¬ 
mains “within.” 

In BU ni.6, where there is a dialogue on Brahman, the position is 
finally reached where the questioner is told that Brahman is “a divinity 
about which further questions cannot be asked,” and at this the ques¬ 
tioner “holds her peace” {upararama). This is, of course, in perfect agree¬ 
ment with the employment of the via remotionis in the same texts, 
where it is said that the Brahman is “No, No” {neti, neti ), and also with 
the traditional text quoted by Sapkara on Vedanta Sutras m.2.17, where 
Bahva, questioned regarding the nature of Brahman, remains silent 
{tusnim), only exclaiming when the question is repeated for the third 
time, “I teach you indeed, but you do not understand: this Brahman is 
silence.” Precisely the same significance attaches to the Buddha’s refusal 
to analyze the state of nirvana. [Cf. avadyam , “the unspeakable,” from 
which the proceeding principles are liberated by the manifested light, RV 
passim .] In BG x.38, Krishna speaks of himself as “the silence of the hid¬ 
den ones {mauna guhyandm), and the gnosis of the Gnostics” (jnanam 
jnanavatam ); where mauna corresponds to the familiar muni, “silent 
sage.” This is not, of course, to say that He does not also “speak,” but 
that his speaking is simply the manifestation, and not an affection, of 
the Silence; as BU 111.5 also reminds us, the supreme state is one that 
transcends the distinction of utterance from silence—“Without respect to 
utterance or silence {amaunam ca maunam nirvidya), then is he indeed a 
Brahman.” When it is asked further, “By what means does one thus 
become a Brahman?” the questioner is told, “By that means by which 
one does become a Brahman,” which is as much as to say, by a way that 
can be found but cannot be charted. The secret of initiation remains 
inviolable by its very nature; it cannot be betrayed because it cannot be 
expressed—it is inexplicable {aniruktam), but the inexplicable is every¬ 
thing, at the same time all that can and all that cannot be expressed. 

It will be seen from the citations above that the Brahmana texts and 
the rites to which they refer are not only absolutely self-consistent but 
in complete agreement with the values implied in the text of RV 11.43.3; 
the explanations are, indeed, of universal validity, and could be applied 
as well to the Orationes Secretae of the Christian Mass (which is also a 


sacrifice) as to the unvoiced repetition of the Indian Yajus-formulae. 7 
The consistency affords at the same time an excellent illustration of the 
general principle that what is to be found in the Brahmanas and Upani- 
sads represents nothing new in principle, but only an expansion of what 
is taken for granted and more “eminently” enunciated in the “older” 
liturgical texts themselves. Those who assume that quite “new doctrines” 
are taught in the Brahmanas and Upanisads are simply placing unneces¬ 
sary difficulties in the way of their own understanding of the Samhitas. 

It will be advantageous also to consider the derivation and form of the 
word tusnim. This indeclinable form, generally adverbial (“silently”) 
but sometimes to be rendered adjectivally or as a noun, is really the 
accusative of a supposedly lost tusna, fem. tusni, corresponding in mean¬ 
ing to Greek 0-1777, and derived from \/tus, meaning to be satisfied, 
contented, and at rest, in the sense that motion comes to rest in the at¬ 
tainment of its object, and indeed as speech comes to rest in silence when 
all has been said that can be said. The word tusnim occurs as a real 
accusative (W. Caland, “tusnim is equal to vacamyamati ')—for to speak 
of “contemplating silently” would involve a tautology—in PB vii.6.1, 
where Prajapati, desiring to proceed from the state of unity to that of 
multiplicity {bahu syam), expressed himself with the words “May I be 
born” ( prajayeya ), and “having by intellect contemplated the Silence” 
{tusnim manasa dhyayat), therewith “saw” ( adidhit) that the Germ 
{garbham, to wit, Agni or Indra, who as the Brhat becomes the “eldest 
son”) lay hidden within himself (antarhitam ), and so proposed to bring 
it to birth by means of the Word {vac). [Cf. TS 11.5.11.5, yad-dhi manasa 

7 It may be added that while, from a religious point of view', silence and fasting 
and other acts of abstention are acts of penance, from a metaphysical point of 
view their significance has no longer to do with the mere improvement of the 
individual as such, but with the realization of supra-individual conditions. The 
contemplative life as such is superior to the active life as such. It does not follow, 
however, that the state of the Comprehcnsor or even that of the Wayfarer should 
be one of total inaction; this would be an imperfect imitation of the Supreme 
Identity, where eternal rest and eternal work are one and the same. There is an 
adequate imitation only when inaction and action are identified, as intended by 
the Bhagavad Gita and the Taoist wu wei\ action no longer implies limitation 
when it is no longer determined by needs or compelled by ends to be attained, 
but becomes a simple manifestation. In this case, for example, utterance does not 
exclude, but rather represents silence [“It is just by sound that the nonsound is 
reveaied,” MU vi.22]; and it is in just this w'ay that a myth or other adequate 
symbol, although an “expression” actually, remains a “mystery” essentially. In 
tie same way, every natural function, when referred to the principle it represents, 
can properly be said to have been renounced even when it is performed. 


202 


203 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

dhyayati, where yad is equivalent to “unspoken word,” “unuttered con¬ 
cept.”] Tusnim manasa dhydyat then corresponds to the more usual 
manasa vacant akrata (RV x.71.2) or manasdiva vacant mithunam sa- 
mabhavat (SB vi. 1.2.9), with reference to “the act of fecundation latent 
in eternity,” for thus 8 “He (Prajapati) became pregnant ( garbkin ) 9 and 
expressed ( asrjata ) the Several Angels.” The birth of the Son is, strictly 
speaking, not only a conception from the conjoint principles, in the sense 
of vital operation, but at the same time a conception intellectually, per 
verbum in intellectu conccptum, corresponding to the designation of the 
Germ ( garbham , to wit, Hiranyagarbha) as a concept ( didhitim ) in this 
sense, RV 111.31.1. 

The Pancavimsa Brahmana, cited above, goes on to explain with refer¬ 
ence to the intention of “bringing to birth by means of the Word” ( vacd 
prajanayd) that Prajapati “released the Word 10 ( vdcam vyasrjata, in other 
words, effected the separation of Heaven and Earth), and She descended 
as Rathantara ( vdg rathantaram avapadyata, where avapad is literally 
to ‘step down,’) . . . and thence was born the Brhat . . . that had lain 
so long within” ( jyog antar abhut ); cf. RV x.124.1, “Thou hast lain long 
enough in the long-darkness” ( jyog cva dirgham tama asayisthah ). u 
That is to say that Aditi, Magna Mater, Night, becomes Aditi, Mother 

8 “Thus,” i.e., as St. Augustine expresses it: having thus "made Himself a mother 
of whom to be born” ( Epiphanius contra quinque haereses, 5). [See A Coptic 
Gnostic Treatise Contained in the Codex Brucianus Ms. 96, tr. Charlotte Baynes 
(Cambridge, 1933), xn.io (p. 48), for Source and Silence.] 

9 Cf. Epiphanius contra quinque haereses xxxtv.4, “The Father was in travail,” 
and in folklore, the “couvadc.” 

10 It is of interest to note the ritual parallel in SB iv.6.9.23-24 where, after sit¬ 
ting speechless (vdcamyamah) , the sacrifices are to “release their speech” {vacant 
visrjetan ) according to their desires, e.g., “May we be abundantly supplied with 
offspring.” [Note tusnim sansam lira iva vai retdmsi vik>yante, AB 11.39; £ f- espe¬ 
cially JUB in.16.] 

11 DIrghatamas, “Long Darkness,” one of the blind “prophets” (rsi) of the Rg 
Veda, is, accordingly, the designation of an ah intra , occulted form of Agni, whose 
relation to his younger brother DTrghasravas, “Far Cry,” is as that of Varuna 
to his younger brother Mitra or Agni, or, in other words, as of Death ( mrtyu) 
to Life (ayits). Of DTrghasravas it is also said that he had “long been under re- 
sraint and lacking food” (jyog aparuddho' sayanah, PB xv.3.25), and all these ex¬ 
pressions correspond to what is said of Vrtra in RV 1.32.10, namely, that “Indra’s 
enemy lay in the long darkness ( dirgham tama a'sayat) beneath the Waters”; the 
ab intra aspect of deity being that of the Dragon or Serpent (vrtra, ahi), the 
procession of Prajapati a “creeping forth from the blind darkness" (andhe tamasi 
prasarpat, PB xvt.r.i), and that of the Serpents generally a "crawling forth” (ati 
sarpana), whereby they become the Suns (PB xxv.r5.4). On this serpentine proces¬ 
sion see Coomaraswamy, “Angel and Titan,” 1935. The procession of DIrghatamas 
requires a longer discussion. 


DOCTRINE OF "SILENCE” 

Earth, and Dawn, to be represented in the ritual by the altar (vedi) 
chat is the birth-place ( yoni ) of Agni; distinction is made between the 
Word that “was with God and was God” from the Word as Earth 
Mother, or in other words of “Mary ghostly” from “Mary in the flesh.” 12 
For, as we know from TS m.1.7 and JB 1.145-146, the Brhat (the Father 
brought to birth) corresponds to Heaven, 13 the future ( bhavisyat ), the 
unbounded ( aparimitam ), and to despiration ( apdna ); the Rathantara 
(the Father’s separated nature) corresponds to Earth, the past ( bhutat ), 
the bounded ( parimitam ), and spiration (prana). 1 ' The same assumptions 
are found in JUB 1.53 ff., substituting Saman and Rc for Brhat and 
Rathantara: the Saman (masc.) representing intellect (manas) and despi¬ 
ration (apdna), the Rc (fem.) the Word (vac) and spiration (prana). 
The Saman is also in scipso “both she (sd) and he (ama)," and it is as 
a single luminous power (viraj ) 11 that the conjoint principles generate 


12 Otherwise represented mythically as the rape of the Word (RV 1.130.9, where 
Indra “steals the Word,” vdcam . . . musdyali), or as an analysis of the Word (RV 
vn.103.6, x.71.3 and 125.3), or again as a measurement or birth of Maya from 
Maya (AV vm.9.5, "Maya was born from Maya,” followed by the Lalita Vistara 
xxvii.12, "Inasmuch as her, i.e., the Buddha’s mother’s, likeness was modeled after 
that of Maya, Maya she was called."). 

13 Agni, although the Son, is the Father himself reborn, and immediately ascends; 
moreover, “Agni is kindled by Agni” (RV 1.12.6). It can be said of him, accord¬ 
ingly, not only that “Being the Father, he became the Son” (AV xix.53.4) and 
that He is both “the Father of the gods and their Son” (RV 1.69.1, see SB vi. 1.2.26), 
but also that “He who heretofore was his own Son now becomes his own Father” 
(SB 11.3.3.5), that he is “His Father’s father” (RV vi.16.35), at once 'l 16 Son and 
Brother of Varuija (RV iv.1.2 and x.5i.6), and “Own-son” (taniinapat, passim )— 
this last expression exactly corresponds to the Gnostic “avToycvr/t.” It is, then, 
easy to see how Agni, although a Son of chthonic birth, can in his identity with 
the Sun be regarded also as the Lover of the Earth Mother; the syzygy Agni- 
Prthivi being then an aspect of the parents Heaven and Earth, Savitr-Savitri, and 
more remotely Mitravarunau (GB 1.32 and JUB iv.27, etc.). 

14 Cf. in AA 11.3.6 the distinction of spirit (prana) from body (sarira), of which 
the former is hidden (lira) and the latter evident (avis), like “a” inherent and 

a expressed: SB x.4.3.9, “No one becomes deathless by means of the body, but 
whether it be by gnosis or by works, only after abandoning the body.” 

“Viraj, from whom all things “milk” their specific virtue or character, is com¬ 
monly a designation of the Magna Mater, but even when so regarded is a syzygy— 
V'ho knoweth her progenitive duality?” AV vm.9.10. The terms viraj and aditi, 
although both usually feminine, may also have a masculine sense with similar 
reference to the first principle. To maintain, indeed, that any creative power con¬ 
sidered in its creative aspect can be defined as exclusively “male” or exclusively 
emale involves a contradiction in terms, all creation whatever being a cognition 
arid con-ception; even in Christianity, the generation of the Son is “a vital operation 
°m a conjoint principle" (a principio conjuncto, Sum. Theol. 1.27.2), i.e., a 
Principle that is both an essence and a nature—“That nature by which the Father 


204 


205 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

the Sun, and then immediately depart from one another, this division of 
essence from nature, Heaven from Earth, or Night from Day being the 
inevitable condition of all manifestation; it is invariably the coming of 
the light that separates in time the Parents that are united in eternity. 
Now saman always has reference to the music, rc to the articulate wording 
of the incantations (rc, mantra, brahma), so that when words are sung 
to measured music this represents an analysis and naturing of a heavenly 
music that in itself is one, and inaudible to human ears. 16 We may say, 

begets.” It is only when it is realized once and for all that the creative power on 
any level of reference—whether, for example, as God or Man—is always a unity 
of conjoint principles, that is to say, a syzygy and mithunatva, that the propriety 
can be seen of such expressions as "He (Agni) was born from the Titan’s womb 
(asurasya jatharat ajayata)," RV nr.2g.14; “Mitra pours the seed in Varuna (retail 
varuno sificati)," PB xxv.ro.io; "My womb is the Great Brahman, therein I lay the 
Germ,” BG xiv.3, and many similar references to the maternity of a deity referred 
to by names grammatically masculine or neuter. 

10 Just as in Plotinus, Enneads 1.6.3, “Harmonics unheard in sound create the 
harmonies we hear and wake the soul to the one essence in another nature”; 
and v.9.11, “An earthly representation of the music that there is in the rhythm 
(= Skr. chandansi) of the ideal world.” It is precisely in this sense that the ritual 
music, like every other part of the Sacrifice, is an imitation of “what was done by 
the Divinities in the beginning” (SB vii.2.1.4 and passim), which holds good no 
less for the Christian Mass or Sacrifice. 

It may be observed that in the operation of conjoint principles we necessarily 
conceive of one as active, the other as passive, and say that one is agent and the 
other means, or that one gives and the other receives. The apparent conflict with 
the Christian doctrine, which denies a “passive power” in God (Sum. Theol. 1.41.4 
ad 2), is unreal. St. Thomas himself remarks that “in every generation there is 
an active and a passive principle” (Sum. Theol. 1.98.2c). The fact is that a distinc¬ 
tion of this kind is determined by the necessity of speaking in terms of time and 
space; whereas in dtvinis action is immediate, and there is no real, but only a logi¬ 
cal distinction of agency from means. Savitr and Savitri are both equally “wombs” 
(yoni, JUB iv.27). If “One of the perfections acts ( \arta ), the other fosters 
(rndhan),'' RV m.31.2, and both of these are active operations; it does not mean 
that cither “act” or “fostering” represents possibilities which might or might not 
have been realized, but merely refers to the co-operation of the conjoint principles, 
intention and power. There is no distinction of potentiality from act. It is only 
when the creation has taken place, and concepts of time and space are therefore 
involved, that we can think of a puro atto as divided from potenza by the measure 
of the whole universe (Dante, Paradiso xxix.31-36), of Heaven and Earth as 
“driving apart” (te vyadravatam, JUB 1.54), or of “Nature as receding from likeness 
to God” (Sum. Theol. 1.14.11). This separation ( viyoga ) is the occasion of cosmic 
suffering (traiso\a, the pain of the Three Worlds that had once been one, PB 
vin.1.9, lo\a-duh\ha, Weltschmcrz, KU v.u), and it is no wonder that “When 
the conjoint pair were parted, the Devas moaned, and said, “Let them be wed 
again’” (RV x.24.5); it is, however, only “at the meeting of the ways,” “at the 
worlds’ end,” that Heaven and Earth “embrace” (JUB 1.5, etc.), only “in the heart” 
that the marriage of Indra and Indrani is really consummated (SB x.5.2.11), that 



DOCTRINE OF “SILENCE” 

accordingly, that the name “Great Liturgy” (brhad u\thah, where ukthah 
is from vac, “to speak”) applied to Agni, e.g., in RV v.19.3, represents the 
Son as a spoken Word, and manifested Logos; 17 and in the same way 
Indra is “the most excellent incantation" ( jyesthas ca mantrah, RV 
x.50.4). 

The spoken Word is a harmony. In KB xxin.2 and xxiv.i, “Prajapati 
is he whose name is not mentioned; 18 this is the symbol of Prajapati. . . . 
‘Aloud’ in ‘Sing aloud, O thou of wide radiance’ (Agni) is a symbol 


is to say, in a silence and darkness that are the same as that “Night that hides 
the darkness of the conjoint pair” in RV 1.123.7, 'be Satapatha Brahmana inter¬ 
preting this condition of unconscious cognition ( samvit ), perfect beadtude ( para - 
mananda), and sleep ( svapna) as an "entering into, or being possessed by, what is 
one’s very own” (svapyaya) [cf. Mand. Up. 11, apiti.). 

17 The Sacrifice in its liturgical aspect is a “bringing to birth by means of the 
Word”: one “sings the Saman on a Rc,” and this is a procreative coupling 
(mithunam), identical with that of Intellect and Word ( manas and vac), Sacrifice 
and Guerdon ( yajha , da\sind, i.c., Prajapati and Dawn), and literally an in -form- 
ation of Nature, “for were it not for Intellect, the Word would be incoherent” 
(SB 111.2.4.11), whereas it is in fact the “birthplace of Order.” The Rathantara, 
for example, is a “means of procreation” ( prajananam , PB vii.7.16, corresponding to 
prajananam as “mistress” vispatni, the “mother” of Agni in RV 111.29.1); Savitri 
in this sense is identified with the meters (chandansi) and called the “Mother of 
the Vedas” (Gopatha Brahmana 1.33 and 38), which “meters” are commonly re¬ 
ferred to as the means par excellence of reintegration (samskarana, AB vi.27, 
SB vi.5.4.7, etc.), and in her conjunction with Savitr presents an analogy with 
the Gnostic Ecclesia (“Mother Church”) and Gnosis as constituting with Man 
(avOpoiroy; = Prajapati, Agni, Manu) a syzygy. In this connection also there 
should be noted the close relationship of the words matra, mdtr, and mayd, “meter,” 
“mother,” and "magical-means” or “matrix”; tnii to “measure” and nir-ma, to 
“measure out” being constantly employed not only in the sense of giving form and 
definition, but in the closely related sense of creating or giving birth to, notably in 
RV m.38.3, ni.53.15, x.5.3, x.125.8, AV vm.9.5, and in the well-known expression 
nirmana-haya , denoting precisely the assumed and actually manifested and born 
“body” of the Buddha. 

Sacrifice and birth are inseparable concepts; the Satapatha Brahmana, indeed, 
proposes the hermeneia, "yajiia, because ‘yah jayate.' ” Sacrifice is divisive, a 
breaking of bread”; the product is articulated and articulate. The Sacrifice is a 
spreading out, a making a tissue or web of the Truth ( satyam tanavamaha, SB 
K.5.1.18), a metaphor commonly employed elsewhere in connection with the 
raying of the fontal light, which forms the texture of the worlds. Just as the kin- 
dbng of Agni is the making perceptible and evident of a hidden light, so the 
utterance of the chants is the making perceptible of a silent principle of sound. 

he spoken Word is a revelation of the Silence, that measures the trace of what 
ls ln itself immeasurable. 

' [Prajapati chooses aniru\tam samno . . . svargyam, the “indistinct (part) of 
‘ >e saman which belongs to heaven,” JUB 1.52.6; cf. manasa “silently,” opposed to 

38 111 JUB 1.58.6; see SB iv.6.9.17 and Eggeling’s note on manasa stotra, also 
l u B 1.40.4.] 


206 


207 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


of the Brhat.” In SB vi.1.1.15, the triumphant Jubilate of the spoken 
Word is described as follows: “She (the Earth, bhumi, being prthivi, 
‘spread out’), feeling herself altogether complete ( sarva bjtsna), sang 
(,agdyat ); and because she ‘sang,’ therefore she is Gayatri. They say too 
that ‘It was Agni, indeed, on her back ( prsthe ) ia who, feeling himself 
altogether complete, sang; and inasmuch as he sang, therefore he is 
Gayatra.’ And hence whosoever feels himself altogether complete, either 
sings or delights in song.” 

We have thus briefly discussed the divine nativity from certain points 
of view in order to bring out the correspondences of the Vedic and the 
Gnostic references to the Silence. In both traditions the authentic and 
integral powers on every level of reference are syzygies of conjoint prin¬ 
ciples, male and female; summarizing the Gnostic doctrine of the Aeons 
(Vedic amrtasah = devah ) we may say that ab intra and informally 
these are / 3 v 0 ds and ervyrj, “Abyss,” and “Silence,” and ab extra , formally, 
rovs and evvoia or Sophia, “Intellect,” and “Wisdom,” and without go¬ 
ing into further detail, that criyrj corresponds to Vedic tusni and vovt 
to manas , ervy-q and Sophia respectively to the hidden and manifested 
aspects of Aditi-Vac; and also that the “fall” of the Word {vdg ■ ■ ■ 
avapadyata, cited above), and her purification as Rc, Apala, Surya (JUB 
1.53 ff., RV vui.91 and x.85) correspond to the fall and redemption of 
Sophia and the Shekinah in the Gnostic and Qabbalistic traditions, respec¬ 
tively. In what are really more academic rather than more “orthodox” 
forms of Christianity, the two aspects of the Voice, within and without, 
are those of “that nature by which the Father begets” and “that nature 
which recedes from likeness to God, and yet retains a certain likeness to 
the divine being” {Sum. Theol. 1.41.5c and 1.14.11 ad 3), the eternal and 
the temporal Theotokoi, respectively. 

Let us repeat in conclusion that the Supreme Identity is neither merely 
silent nor merely vocal, but literally a no-what that is at the same time 
indefinable and partially defined, an unspoken and a spoken Word. 

19 Prsthe, i.e., either (1) with reference to Agni’s being seated on the earthen 
altar {vedi) which is his birthplace {yoni), and/or (2) with reference to Agni’s 
being supported by the Prsthastotra, of which hymn the Gayatri is the mother 
by Prajapati, PB vii.8.8. 



Manas 


In the words of SB x.5.3.3, Agni should be “intellectually laid and in¬ 
tellectually edified” {manasaivadhiyanta manasaclyanta). 

“Intellectually laid and intellectually edified”: for inasmuch as Agni 
Himself “performs an intellectual sacrifice” {manasa yajati, RV 1.77.2), 
it is evident that one who would attain to Him as like to like must have 
done likewise, without which a true “Imitation of Agni” would be im¬ 
possible. Manas in the Samhitas and Brahmanas, and sometimes in the 
Upanisads, is the Pure or Possible Intellect, at once a name of God and 
that in us by which He may be grasped. Thus RV 1.139.2, “We have be¬ 
held the Golden-one by these our eyes of contemplation and of intellect” 
{apasyama hiranyam dhibhis cana manasa svebhir aksibhih) ; RV 1.145.2, 
“What He [Agni], contemplative, hath as it were grasped by His own 
intellect” {sveneva dhlro manasa yad agrabhit); RV vi.9.5, “Intellect is 
the swiftest of birds” {mano javistham patayatsu antas ); RV vm.100.8, 
“The Eagle cometh with the speed of intellect” {mano java ayamana . . . 
suparnah ; cf. Manojavas as a name of Agni, JB 1.50); RV x.ii.i, “Varu- 
ria’s knowledge of all things is according to His speculation” {vi'sv am sa 
veda varuno yatha dhiya ); RV x.181.3, “By an intellectual speculation 
they found 'the Godward-path” {avindan manasa didhyana . . . devay- 
anam ); TS 11.5.11.5, “Intellect is virtually Prajapati” {mana iva hi prajd- 
patih)\ SB x.5.3.1-4, where Intellect {manas) is identified with “That 
which was in the beginning neither Non-being nor Being” (RV x.129.1), 
and this Intellect emanates the Word {vdcam asrjata ), a function usually 
assigned to Prajapati; BU 1.5.7, “The Father is Intellect {manas); The 
Mother, Word {vac); the Child, Spirit or Life ( prana ),” in agreement 
with the usual formulation, according to which Intellect and Word, 
Heaven and Earth, as Knower and Known, are the universal parents of 

IT 1 )' 8 essa > r was first published in the A. C. Woolner Commemoration Volume, ed. 
Mohammad Shafi (Lahore, 1940 ).—ed.] 


208 


209 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

the conceptual universe; 1 and KU iv.ii, “He is attainable intellectually” 
(manasaivedam dptavyam). 

On the other hand, we meet with such expressions as pa\ena manasa, 
(RV vii.104.8 and x.114.4), implying the distinction of a “mature” from 
an “unripened” Intellect; and in such characteristic texts as Kena Up. 
1.3, “There the intellect does not attain” ( na tatra . . . gacchati manah), 
and MU vi.34, “Intellect must be arrested in the heart” ( mano niroddha- 
vyarn hrdi ), as well as wherever the transcendental Person is spoken of 
as “de-mented” ( amanas, amdnasah ), 2 and generally in Buddhism, the 
Intellect ( manas ) is the Reason or Practical Intellect—that Intellect which 
in MU vi.30 is described as the seat, not of science, but of opinion and 
all pros and cons, the term buddhi now coming into use as a designation 
of the speculative as distinguished from the empirical and dialectic Reason. 

These apparent contradictions are completely resolved in MU vi.34, 
where “Intellect is for men a means of bondage or liberation (kdranam 
bandha-mokjayoK)" as the case may be—“of bondage if it clings to ob¬ 
jects of perception ( visayasangi ), and of liberation if not directed towards 
these objects ( nirvisayam ),” i.c., if thought, the only basis of the world- 

1 Intellect (manas, buddhi) and will (vasa, kama), being coincident in divinis = 
adhidcvatam, the divine procession is “conceptual” in both senses of the word; cf. 
SB vi. 1.2.9, where Prajapati manasa iva vacam mithunam samabhavat, sa garbhy 
abhavat . . . asrjata. The same is explicit in the Scholastic expressions per vcrbum 
in intcllcctu conceptum and per artem et ex voluntate. Needless to say, the in¬ 
tellectual and artificial processions are the same, procession or creation per artem = 
tastaiva being essentially an intellectual operation; cf. RV 1.20.2, vacoyuja tata\su 
manasa , and similar texts. In other words, while the procession of the Word (act 
of the Divine Intellect) and the procession of the Spirit (act of the Divine Will), 
although coincident, are nevertheless logically distinguishable, the procession of 
the Word and procession per artem are not merely coincident but logically in¬ 
distinguishable, and this, indeed, is sufficiently evident in Christian theory, where 
Christ is called “the art of God” (Augustine, Dc trinitate vi.io). 

2 In BU 111.8.8, the altjara brahman is amanas ; in Mund. Up. n.1.2, the despirated 
Purusa not in any likeness, i.e., para brahman , is amanah-, in BU vi.2.15 = CU 
tv. 15.5, 6 and v.10.2, He who acts as Guide on the devayana = brahmapatha 
beyond the Sun is, according to different readings, the “de-mented” or “superhu¬ 
man” Person (purujo'inanasah or ’amnavah). Inasmuch as those who are thus con¬ 
ducted “nevermore return to this human cycle” (imam manavam avartam navar- 
tante), it is clear that both Indian commentators, together with Hume, who follows 
them, are wrong in reading BU vi.2.15 as puriifo manavah without avagraha-, the 
reading must be here just as in the parallel passages, puruso'manavah or 'manasah. 
For it is obvious that it can only be the Superhuman Person who guides on the 
superhuman trail, Agni Vaidyuta then, rather than Agni Vaisvanarah; cf. the con¬ 
trast of “lightning” and “concept”—i.e., of immediate vision with theological formu¬ 
lation—in Kena Up. 29-30. 


MANAS 

vortex ( cittarn eva hi samsaram), “is brought to rest in its own source 
(cittarri svayonav 3 upasamyate) by a surcease from fluctuation (vrtti- 
\saydt)." “Intellect is said to be twofold, Pure and Impure” (mano hi 
dvividham, suddham casuddham ca)* —impure when there is correlation 
with desire (kamasampar\dt), pure by remotion of desire; and when the 
intellect, sentimentality, and distraction having been subtracted, has been 
brought to a thorough stillness,” when one reaches dementation, that is 
the last step ( layavikseparahitam manah \rtvd suniscalam, yada yaty 
amanibhavatn tada tat paramam padam), that is, Gnosis and Liberation; 
all else is but a tale of knots (eta] jndnam ca mo\sam ca, sesanye gram 
thavistarah). 8 

The quoted passages and whole context show that by amanibhava, 
“dementation,” nothing so crude is meant as a literal annihilation of the 


:l Svayonau corresponds to svagocare in Lankavatara Sutra 11.115, where the in¬ 
tellect being “in its own pasture, beholds all things at once, as if in a mirror”; 
cf. Chuang-tzu, "The mind of the sage being brought to rest becomes the mirror 
of the universe.” The opposite of svayonau and svagocare ( = svastha) is vifaya- 
gocare in the expression, “as firmly as the intellect is attached in the pasture of 
the senses” (vifaya-gocarc, also in MU vi.34), visaya-gocara being further synony¬ 
mous with indriya-gocara in BG xm.5. D. T. Suzuki entirely misses the point when 
he renders Lankavatara Sutta 11.115, sva-gocarc, by “in its own sense-fields”; the 
meaning really being “in its own pasture"—i.e., when not directed toward sense 
objects. Vrtti-kjaya, as in Yoga Sutra, passim, “cessation of the fluctuations of the 
mind-stuff.” 

1 As also, of course, in Buddhist formulation, where the mind is either defiled 
by ignorance or as it is in itself, “immutable, although the cause of mutation”; see, 
for example, Asvaghosa, Sraddhotpada (Afvaghosha's Discourse on the Awakening 
oj Faith in the Mahayana, tr. Teitaro Suzuki, Chicago, 1900), p. 79. Cf. the con¬ 
cept of the “two-fold mind,” in Erwin Goodenough, By Light, Light (New Haven, 
1935), p- 385 - 

5 Cf. KU vi.io, “That they call the supreme goal, when the five perceptions 
conjointly with the mind (manas) come to a standstill, and intellect (buddhi) 
makes no motion”; also Jacob Bochme, The Supersensual Life, p. 227, “But if thou 
canst, my son, for a while but cease from all thy thinking and willing, then shalt 
thou hear the unspeakable words of God. . . . When thou standest still from the 
thinking of self, and the willing of self: when both thy intellect and will are 
quiet . . . above ... the outward senses.” 


8 Laya, from B, “to cling, adhere,” is here the act of clinging or attachment to 
desirable things and tantamount to “stickiness” in the modern vernacular sense; 
cf. asneha in BU m.8.8. Laya, therefore, can properly be rendered by “sentimen¬ 
tality or by “materialism,” implying both an infatuation with what we like and 
a worship of what we know as “fact” 

Giantha is “knot” in the psychological sense of “complex," those Gordian knots 
0 the heart that must be cut before the experience of eternity is possible (CU 
v h. 26.2, KU vi. 15, Mund. Up. m.2.9). 


210 


211 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


MANAS 


intellect, but rather that the last end has been attained when the intellect 
no longer intelligizes, that is, when there is no longer a distinction of 
Knower from Known or of Knowledge and Being, but only a Knowledge 
as Being and a Being as Knowledge; when, as our text expresses it, 
“Thought and Being are consubstantial” {yat cittas tanmayo bhavati). 
BU iv.3.30 similarly states, “Although he does not know, nevertheless he 
knows; he does not know but there is no loss on the knower’s part, since 
he is indestructible; it is just that there is no second thing other than 
and distinct from himself that he might know.” 7 Or again, as Aquinas 
expresses it, “When the Intellect attains to the form of Truth, it does 
not think, but perfectly contemplates the Truth 8 . . . which means com¬ 
plete identity, because in God the Intellect and the thing understood are 
altogether the same. . . . God has, of Himself, speculative knowledge 
only. . . . God does not understand things by an idea existing outside 
Himself ... an idea in God is identical with His essence” {Sum. Theol. 
1.34.1 ad 2 et 3,1.14.16, and 1.15.1). 

With further reference to yat cittas tanmayo bhavati , cited above: the 
whole verse reads, “The world vortex is merely Thought {cittam eva 
hi samsaram), labor then to cleanse it {sod hay et) ; as is the Thought, such 
is the mode of Being {yat cittas tanmayo bhavati ); this is the Eternal 
Mystery {guhyam . . . sanatanam) Much more is evidently intended 
than merely the “character-making power of Thought” (Hume), for the 
whole context has to do with a plane of reference where “Thought does 

7 That “he” thus na vijanati is, then, an “Unknowing" that is really perfection 
of knowing, and altogether unlike the “ignorance” of the agnostic {avidvdn). 
Christian parallels could be cited without end. See Erigena’s “God does not know 
what He Himself is, because He is not any what; and this ignorance surpasses 
all knowledge,” and the significant tide of the well-known anonymous work, 
A Book. 0/ Contemplation the Which is Called the Cloud of Unknowing in the 
Which a Soul Is Oncd with God. 

For a further analysis of what is meant by “unconsciousness” {asamjhana) post 
mortem and in “deep sleep," sec SB x.5.2.11-15 and BU 11.1.19, 11.4.12-14, and 
iv.5.13-15. It is an unconsciousness because it is not a consciousness 0/ anything, 
which would be impossible where there is no duality, but so far from being an 
absence or privation of consciousness, it is a consciousness as all that might other¬ 
wise be known only conceptually ( sam\alpitam), and hence it is described by such 
expressions as “condensation of discrimination” ( vijhana-ghana) and “cognoscenti’ 
{samvit). 

8 Cf. BG vi.25, atmasamstham manah \rtva na kirncid api cintayet. 

3 Cf. Svet. Up. vi.22, where there is no question of works, but Gnosis and the 
Love of God are described as the indispensable and only means of liberation, and 
“this is the ultimate secret of the Vedanta promulgated in a former aeon” {vedante 
paramam guhyam purakalpe pracoditam). 


not think” and with the attainment of an uncharacterized goal; 10 there 
is no question of a salvation by merit, but only of liberation by gnosis. 
Nor could we expect the expression “Eternal Secret” to be applied to 
anything so obvious as the “character-making power of Thought.” This 
character-making power is, moreover, explicitly dealt with in BU iv.4.5, 
where the whole reference is to the plane of conduct; thus, “As one acts, 
as is one’s habit, such is his being {yathdkari yathdedri tatha bhavati ).... 
As one wills {kamo bhavati), so he intends {\ratur bhavati)-, as he in¬ 
tends, so he does; and as are his deeds, such is the goal that he attains.” 
In our text, MU vi.34, the reference is likewise to the plane of conduct 
or active life insofar as Thought has not been cleansed: but how is it 
when Thought has been cleansed? We know that this means cleansed 
of the concept of “I and Mine,” “I as a Doer,” and of all pairs of op¬ 
posites, Vice and Virtue included, and as specifically stated in our text 
{mano hi .. . suddham . . . kamo vivarjitam), of that very “willing” 
which in BU iv.4.5 is found to be the ultimate basis of “character.” 11 
Yas cittas tanmayo bhavati has reference, then, to a state of being where 
“character” has no longer any meaning, and where “identity of Thought 
and Being” can only mean that the goal of Thought has been attained 
in a perfect adaequatio rei et intellectus; Thinker and Thought in divinis , 
in samadhi, being one perfectly simple essence, “characterized” only by 
“sameness” {samatd; cf. Mund. Up. m.1.3, param samyam) or “perfect 
simplicity” {e\avrtatva) and peace {santi). 

“Thither neither sight nor speech nor intellect can go; we neither 
‘know’ it nor can we analyze it, so as to be able to communicate it by 
instruction” {anusisydt, Kena. Up. 1.3). The realization of the corre¬ 
sponding state in which the Intellect does not intelligize, which is called 
in our text “the Eternal Mystery” and in KU vi.io, “the Supreme Goal” 
and which “cannot be taught,” is the ultimate “secret” of initiation. It 
must not be supposed that any mere description of the “secret,” such as 
can be found in Scripture {sruti) or exegesis, suffices to communicate the 
secret of “de-mentation” {amanibhava); nor that the secret has ever 

10 C£. farm, Lawa'ih 24, “His first characteristic is the lack of all characteristics”; 
Eckhart, “God’s only idiosyncrasy is being.” 

11 A further definition of the cleansing of thought is implied in Mund. Up. 
JH.1.9, “The thought of men is altogether interwoven with the physical functions 
(pranais cittam sarvam otam prajanam, tantamount to the Thomist “All our knowl- 
edge is derived from the senses”); it is in him whose thought is cleansed (of this 
contamination) that the Spirit manifests ( yasmin visuddhe vibhavati esa atma) .” 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


MANAS 


been or could be communicated to an initiate or betrayed to anyone, or 
discovered by however much learning. It can only be realized by each 
one for himself; all that can be effected by initiation is the communica¬ 
tion of an impulse and an awakening of latent potentialities; the work 
must be done by the initiate himself, to whom the words of our text, 
prayatnena sodhayet, are always applicable until the very end of the road 
(adhvanah param) has been reached. 

We make these remarks only to emphasize that whatever can be said 
of it, the secret remains inviolable, guarded by its own essential incom- 
municability. It is in this sense only that the Sun, the Truth, in JUB 
1 * 5 * 15 said t0 “repel” ( apasedhanti) the would-be “winner beyond the 
Sun 12 (CU 11.10.5-6, JUB 1.6.1), who must “break through” into the 
Inexhaustible (MuptJ. Up. 11.2.2, tad evd\saram . . . viddhi) u by his own 
powers and, as in our text MU vi.34, “by effort” (prayatnena). It is not 
a question of <f> 66 vos (“jealousy”) on the part of an Olympian deity or 
on the part of any human guru. Esoteric doctrines are not withheld from 
anyone soever lest he should understand; on the contrary, and although 
the words of scripture are inevitably “enigmatic,” the doctrine is com¬ 
municated with all possible clarity, and it is for those who have ears to 
hear, to hear in fact (RV x.71.6, Mark 4:11-12). It is not for interested 
reasons that the words or other symbols by which the ultimate secret 

12 We cannot undertake here a detailed analysis of the stages of deification but 
may point out that the "breaking through" (the Sun into what lies beyond the Sun) 
is Eckhart s second death of the sou! and is far more momentous than the first" 
(Evans ed., I, 275). The prolongation of the brahmapatha beyond the Sun, where 
neither Sun nor Moon nor Stars give light and the only guidance is that of the 
superhuman Lightning or immediate vision leading on to the para brahman, de- 
scnbable only by the v,a remotionis (net,, ncti), implies a renunciation even of the 
Wayfarers “eternal prototype” (svarupa) in the divine mind, and the last step 
(param padam), by which one mounts upon the very throne of Brahman (Kau$. Up. 

1 L 1 at ! S ’ ' kn0wing Brahman as very Brahman”—is the Wayfarer’s last death, 
who thus as in BU 1.2.7, “becoming Death, dies no more deaths, for Death does not 
die.” All this is implied by the superlative parist'ad etasyhi’tasminn amrte nidadhyat, 
should commit himself to that Immortality far beyond this (Sun),” JUB 1.6.1, and 
param adityaj jayat, . . . paro hasyadityajayaj jayo bhavati, “wins beyond the Sun, 
yea, conquers beyond the conquest of the Sun” (CU 11.10.5-6). 

13 In connection with the expression “breaking through” (cf. MU vi.30, dv'aram 
bhitva) , I take this opportunity to point out that Vedic vedhas, commonly rendered 
by wise, as if from vid, is far more probably “penetrating,” from vyadh, and 
tantamount to vedhin (“archer”) in the sense of Mund. Up. 11.2.2, tad ev'aksaram 
viddhr, cf. also BG xi.54, sakyo hy aham viddhah. And if, indeed, vedhas and viddhi 
are also possible forms of vid, no antinomy is involved, inasmuch as it is precisely 
by gnosis (jnana, vidya) that the breaking through or hitting of the mark is effected. 


is adumbrated “are not to be communicated unless to one who is at 
peace (prasanta) and has perfect devotion (yasya . . . para bhaktih), 
being, moreover, either one’s own son or a disciple” (Svet. Up. vi.22-23)— 
and therefore fit for initiation (dikja)— but, essentially, because any such 
communication would be useless in the case of an unqualified auditor, 
for “what is the use of the texts to one who does not know Him” (yas 
tan na veda \imrcd \arisyati, RV 1.164.39 —- Svet. Up. iv.8); and, ac¬ 
cidentally, as a matter of “convenience” because of “those who can only 
approach the Word in sin” (ta ete vacant abhipadya papaya, RV x.7i.9). ,J 

The “secret” of what is meant by “dementation” (amanibhdva) being 
inaccessible to “mere learning” (cf. panditam manyamdnah ... mudhah,' a 
Mund. Up. 1.2.8; cf. Isa Up. 9), it is thus by definition inaccessible to 
“scholarship” in the modern and philological sense of the word, and from 
this point of view it must be confessed that the greater part of our 

14 Cf. MuijtJ. Up. 111.2.10-n: “The Brahma doctrine may be communicated to such 
as perform the sacrifice (\riyavantah), who are auditors (srotriyah), who arc men 
of faith (sraddhayantah), who take their stand in ‘Brahman,’ and making an of¬ 
fering of themselves to the Only Prophet (Agni), bearers of coals of fire on their 
head. ... But it is not for one to study who docs not practice.” It may be re¬ 
marked, incidentally, that rendered into purely Christian terms, \riyavantah would 
be “regular celebrants of the Mass.” 

18 Primarily the Asuras, from whom the Devas are often represented as con¬ 
cealing their procedure, lest these “mortals” should follow them, cf. Genesis 3:22, 
“lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for¬ 
ever”; and secondly, the “profane,” childish, opinionated and unripe multitude 
(avidvansah, mudhah, balah, nasli\ah, prthagjanah, lau\i\ah, etc.), cf. Mark 
4:11-12, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God: but 
unto them that were without, all these things are done in parables: that seeing they 
may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at 
any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them”; 
Mark 4:23, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear”; and Origen, Contra 
Cclsum 1.7, “That there should be certain doctrines not made known to the multi¬ 
tude ... is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone.” 

To resume, it is inherently impossible to communicate the highest (anagogic, 
paramarthipa) Truth otherwise than parabolically by means of symbols (verbal, 
visual, mythical, ritual, dramatic, etc.) and equally undesirable to attempt to com¬ 
municate the highest Truth to anyone or everyone, because the unqualified auditor 
must inevitably, if he thinks he understands, misunderstand; cf. Kena Up. ir.3b, 
It is not understood by those who 'understand' It; but only by those who do not 
understand’ It.” The point of view is unwelcome to a democratic age of pathetic 
belief in the efficacy of indiscriminate “education,” yet even in such an age it is 
sufficiently evident to what an extent publicity (French, vulgarisation) involves a 
distortion of all but the most elementary theoria- —the theory of relativity, for ex¬ 
ample, being really “forbidden” to all those who cannot think in the technical terms 
of higher mathematics. 


214 


215 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


MANAS 


Vedic studies amounts to nothing more than a “wandering about in 
ignorance on the part of blind leaders of the blind” (Mund. Up. 1.2.8) 
and certainly not to such a “comprehension” as is implied by the con¬ 
stantly repeated ya evarn vidvan of the texts, a comprehension which is 
either a matter of experience, or no matter. Learning, then, like other 
“means” ( upaya ), may be dispositive “either to bondage or to liberation,” 
and that this is so is a proposition with which even some Western critics 
of modern educational aims are in hearty agreement. 16 The last end or 
value depends, as usual, on the final cause; when learning becomes an 
end in itself, a science for the sake of science, then it amounts to no more 
than what was called by St. Bernard a “vile curiosity” (turpis curiositas). 
But if the learning is acquired not for its own sake, but as a means to 
a further end, and thus becomes a “sacrifice of knowledge . . . offered to 
Me” ( jndna-yajnam . . . mad arpanam, BG ix.15, 27), it is conducive to 
the summum bonum envisaged by all scripture as man’s last end. 

We have been led to a discussion of these matters in connection with 
such hard sayings as 1 the mind must be arrested” (mono niroddhavyam ) 
and de-mentation ' ( amanibhava ), partly by the occurrence of such ex¬ 
pressions as “ultimate secret” in the same context, and more particularly 
in order to explain just how it is that in spite of the prestige of modern 
scientific methods and in spite of their general adoption in Indian seats 
of learning, there remains an unknown and for various reasons largely 
inarticulate but far from insignificant—body of opinion according to 
which, apart from the limited field of editorship and publication, the 
results obtained by modern Vedic scholarship have been fundamentally 
nil, precisely because in almost all these studies the heart of the matter has 
been evaded, either because the “doctrine that escapes beneath the veil 
of the strange verses” (Dante, Inferno ix.61), the “picture that is not in 
the colors ( L.ankavatara Sutra n.i 17-118), has exceeded the capacities 
of the student or translator or, what amounts to the same thing, has not 
interested him. 

It is not without reason, then, that the whole Vedic (and likewise the 
Christian) tradition has insisted on the necessity of “Faith” ( sraddha ). 

' 6 C. G. Jung has indeed attributed the “failure” of Western Orientalism partly 
to pride and pardy to a more or less conscious attitude of aloofness assumed by the 
scholar, precisely because “a sympathetic understanding might permit contact with 
an alien spirit to become a serious experience” (Richard Wilhelm and C. G. Jung, 
The Secret of the Golden Flower, 2nd rev. ed.. New York, 1962, p. 81). And 
indeed, there can be no real knowledge of anything from which one holds aloof 
and cannot love. 

216 


We assume the Scholastic definition of Tides as a “consent of the intel¬ 
lect to a credible proposition, of which no empirical proof is available.” 17 
If one has not so much confidence in the texts as to believe that behind 
the words lies more than can be told in words, if one is not convinced by 
the technical consistency of the verses that their “authors” could not have 
spoken thus without themselves possessing a clear understanding and 
actual experience of what they were speaking of, if one does not so far 
trust the texts as to realize that they are not merely fashioned in the 
literary sense but are strictly speaking “in-formed,” how can one pretend 
to have grasped or aspire to grasp their true intention, Dante’s vera sen¬ 
tential As the Buddhist texts so often express it, the nominalist’s pre¬ 
occupation with the aesthetic surfaces and neglect of their content can 
only be compared to the case of the man who, when the moon is pointed 
out, sees nothing but the pointing finger; we refer to the condition which 
a modern European writer has so aptly diagnosed as an “intellectual 
myopia.” 

The terms of Scripture and Ritual arc symbolic (prati\avat ); and 
merely to submit this self-evident proposition is to say that the symbol 
is not its own meaning but is significant of its referent. 18 Under these 

17 This briefly resumes the Thomist definitions, It may be observed that the propo- 
sition Ad fidem duo requiruntur, s. quod credibilia proponantur, et assensus {Sum. 
Theol. v.ni.n ad 1 and 22.6.1c) excludes the ridiculous interpretation Credo quia 
incredibilis. On the other hand, it may be remarked that the euhemcristic inter¬ 
pretations of metaphysical texts, suggested by most modern exegetes, are literally 
“incredible.” The fact is that a majority of modern exegetes have approached their 
task from the standpoint of the anthropologist rather than that of the meta¬ 
physician; in which connection the story related by Eusebius and quoted by H. G. 
Rawlinson in "India and Greece: A Note,” Indian Arts and Letters, X (1936) 
is very pertinent: “Aristoxenus the musician tells the following story about 
the Indians. One of these men met Socrates at Athens, and asked him what was 
the scope of his philosophy. ‘An enquiry into human phenomena,’ replied Socrates. 
At this the Indian burst out laughing. “How can a man enquire into human phe¬ 
nomena,’ he exclaimed, ‘when he is ignorant of divine ones?’” 

18 It will hardly be out of place to remind the philologist or anthropologist who 
undertakes to explain a myth or traditional text that it has long been the recognized 
method of exegesis to assume that at least four valid meanings are involved in any 
scriptural text, according to the level of reference considered; the possible levels 
being, respectively, the literal, moral, allegorical, and anagogic. If the four levels be 
reduced to two by treating the three last as collectively “spiritual” meanings, the 
consequent "literal and spiritual” correspond to Skr. pratya\sam and paro\sena or 
a dhyatman and adhidevatam: the “anagogic” or highest spiritual significance cor¬ 
responding to Skr. paramarthi\a. The student, evidently, who deliberately restricts 
himself to the lowest and most obvious (naturalistic and historical) level of ref¬ 
erence cannot expect to achieve a great exegetic success; he may, indeed, succeed 

217 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


MANAS 


circumstances, would it not be a contradiction in terms for one who 
can say that “such knowledge as is not empirical is meaningless to us” 
to claim to have understood the texts, however encyclopedic his knowl¬ 
edge of them might be? Must there not be recognized an element of 
perversity in one who can stigmatize the Brahmanas as “puerile, arid, 
and inane” and yet propose to study or translate such works? 19 Under 
such conditions, what other results could have been expected than have 
been actually attained? To take only one example: the whole doctrine 
of “reincarnation” and the supposed “history” of the doctrine have been 
so distorted by a literal interpretation of symbolic terms as to justify' a 
designation of the doctrine thus presented as “puerile,” just as the re¬ 
sults of the study of Indian mythology by statistical methods may fairly 
be described as “arid and inane.” 

We should not like it to be supposed that the foregoing remarks are 
directed against Western scholars as such or personally. The defects of 
modern Indian scholarship are of the same sort, and no less glaring. 
The recent adoption of the naturalistic and the nominalistic point of 
view by Indian scholars has led, for example, to such absurdities as the 
belief that the sky-faring vehicles” ( vimana , etc.) of the ancient texts 
were actually airplanes; we are merely pointing out that such absurdities 
are no greater than, but of the same sort as, those of Western scholars 
who have supposed that in the Vedic rescue of Bhujyu from the “sea” 
there is no more to be seen than the vague reminiscence of the adventure 
of some man who, once upon a time, fell into the salt sea and was duly 
rescued, or those who argue that RV v.46.1 represents no more than the 
case of the royal retainer who follows his leader no matter what befalls— 
not recognizing that verses of this kind, far from being anecdotal, are 
general equations or forms of which events as such, whether past or 
present, can only be regarded as special cases. Our only purpose has 
been to show that to make of Vedic studies nothing more than “an in¬ 
quiry into human conduct” (to quote the phrase attributed to Socrates) 
presupposes a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the texts 
themselves; and in the present case, that those who propose to investigate 


in depicting the myth as he sees it “objectively”—i.e., as something into which 
he cannot enter, but can only look at. But in thus describing a myth according to 
what is, strictly speaking, his “accidental” knowledge of it, he is really discussing 
only its “actual shape” and leaving altogether out of account its “essential form.” 

19 Quotations in this and the preceding sentence are from the published works 
of two of the most distinguished Sanskritists. 


such terms as manas from this all-too-human and exclusively humanistic 
point of view must necessarily fail to distinguish "dementation” from 
“insanity” and “unknowing” from “ignorance.” We maintain, accord¬ 
ingly, that it is an indispensable condition of true scholarship to “believe 
in order to understand” (crede ut intelligas), and to “understand in order 
to believe” (intellige ut credos), not, indeed, as distinct and consecutive 
acts of the will and of the intellect, but as the single activity of both. The 
time has surely come when we must not merely, as heretofore, consider 
the meanings of particular terms but also reconsider our whole method 
of approach to the problems involved. We venture to propound that it 
is precisely the divorce of intellect and will in the supposed interests of 
objectivity that primarily explains the relative infirmity of the modern 
approach. 


218 


219 


KHA 



Kha and Other Words Denoting “Zero,” 
in Connection with the 
Indian Metaphysics of Space 

Kha, cf. Greek xaos, j s generally “cavity”; and in the Rg Veda, particu¬ 
larly “the hole in the nave of a wheel through which the axle runs” 
(Monier-Williams). A. N. Singh has shown conclusively that in Indian 
mathematical usage, current during the earlier centuries of the Christian 
era, kha means “zero”; 1 Suryadeva, commenting on Aryabhata, says that 
“the {has refer to voids ({hani sunya upa laksitdni ) .. . thus kjiadvinake 
means the eighteen places denoted by zeros.” Among other words denot¬ 
ing zero are sunya, akasa, vyoma, antaripsa, nabha, ananta, and purnar 
We are immediately struck by the fact that the words sunya, “void,” and 
purna, “plenum,” should have a common reference; the implication being 
that all numbers are virtually or potentially present in that which is with¬ 
out number; expressing this as an equation, o = x — x, it is apparent that 
zero is to number as possibility is to actuality. Again, employment of the 
term ananta with the same reference implies an identification of zero with 
infinity; the beginning of all series being thus the same as their end. This 

[This essay was first published in the Bulletin oj the School of Oriental Studies 
(London), VII (1934).— ed .] 

1 four ml of the United Provinces Historical Society, VII, 44-45, 62. 

2 It may as well be pointed out here that although “the decimal notation must 
have been in existence and in common use among the mathematicians long before 
the idea of applying the place-value principle to a system of word names could 
have been conceived" (1 bid., p. 61), and although a decimal scale has actually been 
found at Mohenjo Daro (E.J.H. Mackay, “Further Excavations at Mohenjodaro,” 
Journal of the Royal Society of Arts , LXXXII, 1934, 222) it is by no means the 
intention of the present article to present an argument for a Rg Vedic knowledge 
of either the decimal system or the concept of “zero” as such. Our purpose is merely 
to exhibit the metaphysical and ontological implications of the terms which were 
later on actually used by Aryabhata and Bhaskara, etc., to designate “zero,” “one,” 
and some higher numbers. 

220 


last idea, we may observe, is met with already in the earlier metaphysical 
literature, for example RV iv.i.n, where Agni is described as “hiding 
both his ends ( guhamano antd)"-, AB m.43, “the Agnistoma is like a 
chariot wheel, endless (ananta)"-, JUB 1.35, “the Year is endless (ananta), 
its two ends (antd) are Winter and Spring ... so is the endless chant 
(anantam saman)." These citations suggest that it may be possible to ac¬ 
count for the later mathematicians’ selection of technical terms by refer¬ 
ence to an earlier usage of the same or like terms in a purely metaphysical 
context. 

Our intention being to demonstrate the native connection of the mathe¬ 
matical terms \ha, etc., with the same terms as employed in purely meta¬ 
physical contexts, it will be necessary to prepare the diagram of a circle 
or cosmic wheel (ca\ra, mandala) and to point out the significance of 
the relationships of the parts of such a diagram according to universal 
tradition and more particularly in accordance with the formulation of the 
Rg Veda. Take a piece of blank paper of any dimensions, mark a point 
anywhere upon it, and with this point as center draw two concentric 
circles of any radii, but one much less than the other; draw any radius 
from the center to the outer circumference. With exception of the center, 
which as a point is necessarily without dimension, note that every part 
of our diagram is merely representative; that is, the number of circles 
may be indefinitely increased, and the number of radii likewise, each 
circle thus filled up becoming at last a plane continuum, the extended 
ground of any given world or state of being; for our purpose we are con¬ 
sidering only two such worlds—mythologically speaking, Heaven and 
Earth, or psychologically, the worlds of subject and object—as forming 
together the world or cosmos, typical of any particularized world which 
may be thought of as partial within it. Finally, our diagram may be 
thought of either as consisting of two concentric circles with their com¬ 
mon radii and one common center, or as the diagram of a wheel, with its 
felly, nave, spokes, and axle-point. 

Now in the first place, as a geometrical symbol, that is to say with re¬ 
spect to measure or numeration, our diagram represents the logical rela¬ 
tionships of the concepts naught or zero, inconnumerable unity, and in¬ 
definite multiplicity; the blank (sunya) surface having no numerical sig¬ 
nificance; the central point (indu, bindu) being an inconnumerable unity 
(inconnumerable, advaita, because there cannot be conceived a second cen¬ 
ter) ; and either circumference an endless (ananta) series of points, which 
ma y be thought of as numbers; the totality (sarvam) of the numbered, 

221 








MAJOR ESSAYS 


KHA 


chat is to say individual, points representing the sum of a mathematically 
infinite series extending from one to “infinity,” and conceivable as plus or 
minus according to the direction of procedure. The whole area ( sarira ) 
delimited corresponds to place (desa), a revolution of the circles about 
their center corresponds to time ({ala). It will be observed further that 
any radius connects analogous or corresponding points or numbers on the 
two circumferences; 8 if, now, we suppose the radius of one or both circles 
indefinitely reduced, which brings us to the central point as limi ting con¬ 
cept (that is also “as it was in the beginning”), it is evident that even this 
point can be thought of only as a plenum of all the numbers represented 
on either circumference. 1 On the other hand, this point, at the same time 
that it represents an inconnumerable unity and, as we have seen, a plenum, 
must also be thought of as representing, that is, as the symbol of, zero, 
for two reasons: (i) inasmuch as the concept to which it refers is by defini¬ 
tion without place and without dimensions, and therefore nonexistent, 
and (2) the mathematically infinite series, thought of as both plus and 
minus according to direction, cancel out where all directions meet in com¬ 
mon focus. 

So far as I know, Indian literature does not provide a specifically geo¬ 
metrical exegesis exactly corresponding to what is given in the preceding 
paragraph. What we do find in the metaphysical and religious traditions 
is a corresponding usage of the symbol of the Wheel (primarily the 
solar chariot, or a wheel thereof), and it is in this connection that we 
first meet with some of the most significant of those terms which are 
later on employed by the mathematicians. In RV 1.155.6 and 1.164.2, n, 
13, 14, 48; AV x.8.4-7; KB xx.i; JUB 1.35; BU 1.5.15; Svet. Up. 1.4; 
Prasna Up. vi.5-6, and like texts, the Year as an everlasting sequence is 
thought of as an unwasting wheel of life, a revolving wheel of the Angels, 
in which all things have their being and are manifested in succession; 
“none of its spokes is last in order” (RV v.85.5). The parts of the wheel 
are named as follows: ani, the axle-point within the nave (note that the 
axle causes revolution, but does not itself revolve); {ha, ndbhi , the nave 
(usually as space within the hub, occasionally as the hub itself); ara, 
spoke, connecting hub and felly; nemi, pavi, the felly. It should be ob¬ 
served that ndbhi, from V nabh, to expand, is also “navel”; similarly 
in anthropomorphic formulation, “navel” corresponds to “space” (MU 

3 The familiar principle "as above, so below” is illustrated here. 

4 The notion of exemplarism is expressed here, with respect to number or mathe¬ 
matical individuality. 

222 


vx.6); in the Rg Veda, the cosmos is constantly thought of as “expanded” 
(\/ pin) from this chthonic center. 

Certain passages indicating the metaphysical significance of the terms 
ani, {ha, and ndbhi in the Rg Veda may now be cited. It should be 
premised that we find here in connection with the constant use of the 
wheel symbol, and absence of a purely geometrical formulation, the term 
ani employed to express ideas later on referred to by the words indu or 
bindu . 5 Vedic ani, being the axle-point within the nave of the wheel, 
and on which the wheel revolves, corresponds exactly to Dante’s “il punta 
dello stelo al cui la prima rota va dintorno” (Paradiso xm.ii-12). The 
metaphysical significance of the ani is fully brought out in RV 1.35.6, 
dnim na rathyam amrta adhi tasthuh, “as on the axle-point of the chariot 
wheel are actually existent the undying [Angels or intellectual prin¬ 
ciples],” which also supplies the answer to the well-known problem, 
“How many Angels can stand on the point of a needle?” More often the 
nave of the wheel, rather than the axle-point specifically, is treated as its 
center; nor need this confuse us if we reflect that just as under limiting 
conditions (indefinite reduction of the radius, or when the central point 
has been identified but the circle not yet drawn) the center represents 
the circle, so under similar conditions (metaphysically, in principio) the 
axle-point implies the nave or even the whole wheel—the point without 
dimension, and a principial space not yet expanded (or as the Rg Veda 
would express it, “closed”) being the same in reference. The nave then, 
{ha or ndbhi, of the world wheel is regarded as the receptacle and foun¬ 
tain of all order, formative ideas, and goods: for example, 11.28.5, rdhydma 
te varuna {ham rtasya, “may we, O Varuna, win thy nave of Law”; 
vm.41.6, where in Trita Aptya “all oracles ({avya ) are set as is the nave 
within the wheel ( ca{re nabhir iva)"; iv.28, where Indra opens the closed 
or hidden naves or rocks (apihita . . . {hani in verse 1, apihitani a'snd 
in verse 5) and-thus releases the Seven Rivers of Life. 0 In v.32.1, where 

5 Indu occurs in the Rg Veda as “drop” in connection with Soma: in AV vn.109.6 
as "point on a die”; and grammatically as the designation of Anusvara. PB vi.9.19- 
20 is of interest: indava iva hi pitarah, mana iva , i.e., “the Patriarchs are as it were 
drops (indu in pi.), as it were the intellectual principle.” In RV vi.44.22, Indu is 
evidently Soma; in vu.54.2, Vastospati. 

e The Rivers, of course, represent ensembles of possibility (hence they are often 
spoken of as “maternal”) with respect to a like number of “worlds,” or planes of 
being, as in 1.22.16, prthivya sapta dhamabhih. Our terms kha, asna, etc., are neces¬ 
sarily employed in the plural when the “creation” is envisaged with respect to the 
cosmos not as a single “world,” but as composed of two, three, or seven originally 
unmanifested but now to be conceptually distinguished “worlds”; the solar chariot 

223 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

Indra breaks open the Fountain of Life ( atsam ), this is again an empty¬ 
ing out of the hollows ( {hdni ), whereby the fettered floods are released. 

According to an alternative formulation, all things are thought of as 
ante principium shut up within, and in principio as proceeding from, a 
common ground, rock, or mountain ( budhna , adri, parvata, etc.): this 
ground, thought of as resting island-like within the undifferentiated 
sea of universal possibility (x.89.4, where the waters pour sagarasya 
budhnat ), is merely another aspect of our axle-point (am), regarded as 
the primary assumption toward which the whole potentiality of existence 
is focused by the primary acts of intellection and will. This means that 
a priori undimensioned space ({ha, d{dsa, etc.) underlies and is the 
mother of the point, rather than that the latter has an independent origin; 
and this accords with the logical order of thought, which proceeds from 
potentiality to actuality, nonbeing to being. This ground or point is, in 
fact, the “rock of ages” (asmany anante, 1.130.3; adrim . . . acyutam, 
vi.17.5). Here ante principium Agni lies occulted (guhd santam, 1.141.3, 
etc.) as Ahi Budhnya, “in the ground of space, concealing both his ends” 
(budhne rajaso . . . guhamdno antd, iv.i.ii, where it may be noted that 
guhamdno antd is tantamount to ananta, literally “end-less,” “in-finite,” 
“eternal”), hence he is called “chthonic” (nabhir agni prthivyd, 1.59.2, 
etc.), and is born in this ground (jayata prathamah . . . budhne, iv.i.ii) 
and stands erect, Janus-like, at the parting of the ways (ayor ha s{ambha 
■ . . pathdm visarge , x.5.6); hence he gets his chthonic steeds and other 
treasures (asvabudhna, x.8.3; budhnya v as uni, vn.6.7). It is only when 
this rock is cleft that the hidden kine are freed, the waters flow (1.62.3, 
where Brhaspati bhinad adrim and vidadgah ; v.41.12, srnvanty apah . . . 
adreh ). This is, moreover, a center without place, and hence when the 
Waters have come forth (that is, when the cosmos has come to be) one 
asks, as in x.111.8, “where is their beginning (agram), where their ground 
(budnah), where now, ye Waters, your innermost center (madhyam 
. . . antah )?” 7 


having one, two, three, or seven wheels, accordingly. It is perhaps because the 
chariot of the Year is more often than not thought of as two-wheeled (Heaven 
and Earth), and therefore provided with two analogous axle-points, that ant was 
not later employed as a verbal symbol of “one.” 

' Madhya is “middle” in all senses, and also algebraically “mean.” For the meta¬ 
physical values, cf. RV madhye samudre, and utsasya madhye = sindhunam 
upodaye , as the place of Agni or Varuna, and in CU m.n.i, e\ata madhye sthane, 
“single in the midmost station.” 


KHA 

Thus metaphysically, in the symbolism of the Wheel, the surface—blank 
(:sunya ) in the initial nonbeing (asat) of any formulation (sam{alpa)— 
represents the truly infinite (aditi) and maternal possibility of being; the 
axle-point or nave, exemplary being (visaam e{am, RV 111.54.8 = integral 
omnipresence); the actual construction, a mentally accomplished parti¬ 
tion of being into existences; each spoke, the integration of an individual 
as nama-rupa, that is, as archetypal inwardly and phenomenal outwardly; 
the felly, the principle of multiplicity (visamatva) . Or, employing a more 
theological terminology: the undetermined surface represents the Godhead 
(aditi, parabrahman, tamas, apah)-, the axle-point or immovable rock, 
God (aditya, aparabrahman, isvara, jyoti); the circle of the nave, Heaven 
(svarga) ; any point on the circumference of the nave, an intellectual prin¬ 
ciple (ndma, deva) ; the felly, Earth with its analogous (anurupa) phe¬ 
nomena (vised rupdni) ; the construction of the wheel, the sacrificial act 
of creation ({arma,“ srsti), its abstraction, the act of dissolution (laya). 
Furthermore, the course (gati) of any individual upon the pathway of a 
spoke is in the beginning centrifugal (pravrtta) and then again centripetal 
(nivrtta), until the center (madhya) is found; and when the center of 
individual being coincides with the center of the wheel, he is emancipated 
(mu{tu), the extension of the wheel no longer involving him in local 
motion, at the same time that its entire circuit now becomes for him 
one picture (jagaccitraY seen in simultaneity, who as “round-about-seer,” 
paridrastr, now “overlooks everything,” visvam . . . abhicaste, 1.164.44. 

In order to understand the use of terms for “space” ({ha, d{dsa, anta- 
ri{sa, sunya, etc.) 10 as verbal symbols of zero (which represents privation 
of number, and is yet a matrix of number in the sense o = x — x), n it 
must be realized that d{asa, etc., represent primarily a concept not of 
physical space, but of a purely principial space without dimension, though 
the matrix of dimension. 12 For example, “all these beings arise out of the 

8 For the construction of the wheel, cf. RV vm.77.3, “{hidat {he ardn iva 
\hedaya, and the discussion in Coomaraswamy, “Angel and Titan: An Essay in 
Vedic Ontology,” 1935. 

3 Sankaracarya, Svatmanirupana 95. 

10 Sunya does not appear in RV, though simam occurs in the sense of “priva¬ 
tion.” 

11 Observe that the dual series of plus and minus numbers represents “pairs of 
opposites," dvandvau. 

12 C. A. Scharbrau, “Transzendenter Raum der Ewigkeit ist der Akasa vor allem 
auch da, wo er als Ausgangspunkt, als Schopfungsgrund und als Ziel, als A und O 


224 


225 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


KHA 


space ( aka'sad ' samapadyanta) and return into the space ( a{dsam praty- 
astam yanti). For the space is older than they, prior to them, and is their 
last resort ( parayanam ),” CU 1.9.1; “space is the name of the permis¬ 
sive cause of individual-integration (a{dso vai nama namarupayor nirva- 
hitd),” CU vm.14; and just as Indra “opens the closed spaces ( apihita 
{ham),” RV iv.28.1, so the Self “awakens this rational [cosmos] from 
that space ( a{dsat esa {halu idam cetdmdtram dobhayati),” MU vi.17, 
in other words, ex nihilo fit. Furthermore, the locus of this “space” is 
“within you": “what is the intrinsic aspect of expansion is the supernal 
fiery energy in the vacance of the inner man (tat svarupam nabhasah {he 
antarbhutasya yat param tejah ),” MU vii.n; 13 and this same “space 
in the heart” (antarhrdaya a{asa) is the locus (ayatana, vesma, nida, 
{osa, etc.) where are deposited in secret (guhd nihitam) all that is ours 
already or may be ours on any plane ( lo{a ) of experience (CU vm.1.1-3). 
At the same time, in BU v.i, this “ancient space” ({ha) is identified with 
Brahman and with the Spirit ({ham brahma, {ham puranam, vayuram 
{ham iti), and this Brahman is at the same time a plenum or pleroma 
(purna) such that “when plenum is taken from plenum, plenum yet re¬ 
mains.” 14 

Here we get precisely that equivalence of {ha and purna, void and 
plenum, which was remarked upon as noteworthy in the verbal notation 
of the mathematicians. The thought, moreover, is almost literally repeated 
when Bhaskara in the Bijaganita 15 defines the term ananta thus: ay am 
ananto rasih {hahara ity ucyate. Asmin vifidrah {hahare na ra'savapi 
pravistesvapi nihsrtesu bahusvapi syal layasrsti{ale 'nante 'cyute bhu- 
taganesu yadvat, that is, “This fraction of which the denominator is zero, 
is called an infinite quantity. In this quantity consisting of that which 
has cipher for its divisor, there is no alteration, though many be added or 
subtracted; just as there is no alteration in the Infinite Immovable (anante 
acyute ) 16 at the time of the emanation or resolution of worlds, though 
hosts of beings are emanated or withdrawn.” 


der Welt angeschaut wird,” Die Idee der Schopfung in der vedischen Literalur 
(Stuttgart, 1932), p. 56; “size which has no size, though the principle of size,” 
Meister Eckhart, Evans ed., I, 114. 

13 Nabha, from V nabh, to “expand,” etc., as also in nabhi, “navel” and “nave.” 
A secondary sense of nabh is “to destroy.” 

14 This text occurs in almost the same form in AV x.8.29. 

15 Calcutta, 1917, pp. 17-18. 

18 Cf. asmany anante and ad rim acyutam cited above, with the meaning “rock 
of Ages.” 


It may be observed further that while in the Rg Veda we “do not find 
the use of names of things to denote numbers, we do find instances of 
numbers denoting things.” 17 In vn.103.1, for example, the number “twelve” 
denotes the “year”; in x.71.3, “seven” stands for “rivers of life” or “states 
of being.” It is thus merely a converse usage of words when the mathe¬ 
maticians make use of the names of things to denote numbers; to take the 
most obvious examples, it is just what should be expected, when we find 
that 1 is expressed by such words as adi, indu, abja, prthvi; 2 by such as 
yama, asvina; 3 by such as agni, vaisvanara, haranetra, bhuvana; 4 by 
veda, di's , yuga, samudra, etc.; 5 by prana; 6 by rtu; and so forth. It is 
not to be understood, of course, that the number-words are all of Vedic 
origin; many suggest rather an Epic vocabulary, e.g., pandava for 5, 
while others, such as netra for 2, have an obvious and secular source. 
In certain cases an ambiguity arises, for example, lo{a as representing 
either 3 or 14, dis as representing 4 or 10, but this can be readily under¬ 
stood; in the last-mentioned case, for example, the quarters have been 
thought of in one and the same cosmology as either four, or if we count 
up eight quarters and half-quarters, adding the zenith and nadir, as ten. 
Taken in its entirety as cited by Singh, the numeral vocabulary can 
hardly antedate the beginning of the Christian era (we find that 10 
is represented, among other words, by avatara; and 6 by raga). 

If we attempt to account for the forms of the ideograms of numbers 
in a similar fashion, we shall be on much less certain ground. A few 
suggestions may nevertheless be made. For example, a picture-writing of 
the notion “axle-point” could only have been a “point,” and of the con¬ 
cept “nave” could only have been a “round O,” and both of these signs 
are employed at the present day to indicate “zero.” The upright line that 
represents “one” may be regarded as a pictogram of the axis that pene¬ 
trates the naves of the dual wheels, and thus at once unites and separates 
Heaven and Earth. The Devanagari and Arabic signs for “three” cor¬ 
respond to the trident (trisula), which is known to have been from 
very ancient times a symbol of Agni or Siva. A priori it might be expected 
that a sign for “four” should be cruciform, following the notion of ex¬ 
tension in the directions of the four airts (dis); and in fact we find in 
Saka script that “four” is represented by a sign X, and that the Devana¬ 
gari may well be thought of as a cursive form derived from a like proto¬ 
type. Even if there be sufficient foundation for such suggestions, it is 
hardly likely that a detailed interpretation of ideograms of numbers 

11 S ‘ n gh, p. 56, (as cited in n. 1). 


226 


227 





MAJOR ESSAYS 


KHA 


above four could now be deduced. We can only say that the foregoing 
suggestions as to the nature of numerical ideograms rather support than 
counter the views of those who seek to derive the origins of symbolism, 
script, and speech from the concept of the circuit of the year. 

It is, however, beyond question that many of the verbal symbols—the 
case of ,\ha for “zero” is conspicuous—used by Indian mathematicians had 
an earlier currency, that is to say before a development of mathematical 
science as such, in a more universal, metaphysical context. That a scien¬ 
tific terminology should thus have been formulated on the basis of a 
metaphysical terminology, and by no means without a full consciousness 
of what was being done (as the citation from Bhaskara clearly shows), 
is not only in accordance with all that we know of the natural course of 
Indian thought, which takes the universal for granted and proceeds to 
the particular, but also admirably illustrates what from a traditionally 
orthodox point of view would be regarded as constituting a natural and 
right relationship of any special science to the metaphysical background 
of all sciences. One is reminded of words in the Encyclical of Pope 
Leo XIII, dated 1879, on the “Restoration of Christian Philosophy”: 
“Hence, also, the physical sciences, which now are held in so much 
repute, and everywhere draw to themselves a singular admiration, be¬ 
cause of the wonderful discoveries made in them, would not only take no 
harm from a restoration of the philosophy of the ancients, but would 
derive great protection from it. For the fruitful exercise and increase of 
these sciences it is not enough that we consider facts and contemplate 
Nature. When the facts are well known we must rise higher, and give 
our thoughts with great care to understanding the nature of corporeal 
things, as well as to the investigation of the laws which they obey, and 
of the principles from which spring their order, their unity in variety, 
and their common likeness in diversity. It is marvelous what power and 
light and help are given to these investigations by Scholastic philosophy, 
if it be wisely used . . . there is no contradiction, truly so called, between 
the certain and proved conclusions of recent physics, and the philosophical 
principles of the Schools.” These words by no means represent a merely 
Christian apologetic, but rather enunciate a generally valid procedure, 
in which the theory of the universal acts at the same time with sug¬ 
gestive force and normatively with respect to more specific applications. 
We may reflect, on the one hand, that the decimal system, with which the 
concept “zero” is inseparably connected, was developed by Indian schol¬ 


ars 18 who were very surely, as their own words prove, deeply versed in 
an d dependent upon an older and traditional metaphysical interpreta¬ 
tion of the meaning of the world; and on the other, that had it not been 
for its boasted and long-maintained independence of traditional meta¬ 
physics (in which the principles, if not the facts, of relativity are ex¬ 
plicit), 11 ' modern scientific thought might have reached much sooner 
than has actually been the case a scientifically valid formulation and 
proof of such characteristic notions as those of an expanding universe 
and the finity of physical space. What has been outlined above with 
respect to the special science of mathematics represents a principle no 
less valid in the case of the arts, as could easily be demonstrated at very 
great length. For example, what is implied by the statement in AB vi.27, 
that “it is in imitation of the angelic works of art that any work of art 
such as a garment or chariot is made here,” 20 is actually to be seen in the 
hieratic arts of every traditional culture, and in the characteristic motifs 
of the surviving folk arts everywhere. Or in the case of literature: epic 
( Volsunga Saga, Beowulf, the CuchuIIain and Arthurian cycles, Ma- 
hdbhdrata, Buddhacarita, etc.) and fairy tale (notably, for example, Jack 
and the Beanstalk) repeat with infinitely varied local coloring the one 
story of jatavidya, Genesis. 21 The whole point of view can, indeed, be 
recognized in the Indian classification of traditional literature, in which 
the treatises ( sdstras) on auxiliary science such as grammar, astronomy, 
law, 22 medicine, architecture, etc., are classed as Vedanga, “limbs or pow¬ 
ers of the Veda,” or as Upaveda, “accessory with respect to the Veda”; as 

18 “The place system of the Babylonians . . . fell on fertile soil only among the 
Hindus. . . . Algebra, which is distinctly Hindu . . . uses the principle of local 
value’’ (M. J. Babb, in JAOS, LI, 1931, 52). That the “Arabic” numerals are ulti¬ 
mately of Indian origin is now generally admitted; what their adoption meant for the 
development of European science need not be emphasized. 

10 Aryabhata, Aryabhatiya iv.g, “As a man in a boat going forward sees a sta¬ 
tionary object moving backward, just so at Lanka a man sees the stationary asterisms 
moving backward.” 

20 See Coomaraswamy, The Transformation of Nature in Art, 1934, p. 8 and n. 8. 

21 Cf. Ernest Siecke, Die Liebesgeschichte dcs Himmels (Strassburg, 1892); and 
Alfred Icremias, Handbuch der allorientalischen Geisteskultur (Berlin, 1929), p. 
x: “Die Menschheitsbildung ist eiti einheitliches Ganzes, und in den verschiedencn 
Kulturen findet man die Dialekte der einen Geistessprache.” 

Even the “Machiavellian” Arthasastra (1.3) proceeds from the principle sva- 
dharmah svargaya anantydya ca, tasya atibrame lo\_ah san\arhd acchidycta, "vocation 
leads to heaven and aeviternity; in case of a digression from this norm, the world 
is brought to ruin by confusion.” 


228 


229 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


Guenon expresses it, “toute science apparaissait ainsi comme un prolonge- 
ment de la doctrine traditionelle elle-meme, comme une de ses applica¬ 
tions . . . une connaissancc inferieure si Ton veut, mais pourtant encore 
une veritable connaissance,” while, per contra, “Les fausses syntheses, qui 
s’eiforcent de tirer le superieur de l’inferieur . . . ne peuvent jamais etre 
qu’hypothetiques. . . . En somme, la science, en meconnaissant les prin- 
cipes et en refusant de s’y rattacher, se prive a la fois de la plus haute 
garantie qu’elle puisse recevoir et de la plus sure direction qui puisse 
lui etre donnee . . . clle devient douteuse et chancelante . . . ce sont la 
des caracteres generaux de la pensee proprement moderne; voila a quel 
degre d’abaissement intellectucl en est arrive l’Occident, depuis qu’il est 
sorti des voies qui sont normales au reste de I’humanitc.” 23 

23 Rene Guenon, Orient et Occident (Paris, 1930), extracts from ch. 2. 



The Tantric Doctrine of 
Divine Biunity 


“You say, then, Trismegistus, that God is of both sexes?” 

Hermes, Asclepius 111.21 


All tradition speaks in the last analysis of God as an inconnumerable 
and perfectly simple Identity, but also of this Supreme Identity as an 
identity of two contrasted principles, distinguishable in all composite 
things, but coincident without composition in the One who is no thing. 
The Identity is of Essence and Nature, Being and Nonbeing, God and 
Godhead—as it were, masculine and feminine. Natura naturans, Creatrix 
universalis est Deus . 1 On the other hand, a division of Essence from 
Nature, Heaven from Earth, subject from object, is a sine qua non of the 
existence of composite things, all of which are, but in different and par¬ 
ticular ways. Nature then “recedes from likeness to God, yet even inso¬ 
far as it has being in this wise, it retains a certain likeness to the divine 
being” (Sum. Theol. 1.14.11 ad 3). Henceforth Essence is the Creator and 
active power, Nature the means of creation and passive recipient of form 
—“Nature as being that by which the generator generates” (Damascene, 
De fide orthodoxa 1.18). Of which the relation of man to woman is a 
likeness: the relation of marriage is a sacrament and rite because an ade¬ 
quate symbol and reflection of the identification of Essence and Nature 
m divinis. 

The notion of a bisexual polarity in Deity suggested above has some¬ 
times been regarded as a peculiarity of the mediaeval Hindu and Buddhist 


[First published in French in titu.des traditionelles, XLII (1937), this essay later 
appeared in its original English version in the Annals of the Bhandarper Oriental 
Research Institute, XIX (1938).—ed.] 



natura didtur dupliciter , etc. Throughout the present article, “Nature” stands for 
Natura naturans. 


230 


231 





MAJOR ESSAYS 

Tantric systems of India, in which it is so clearly enunciated and made 
the basis of a visual and ritual symbolism: 2 and especially so regarded 
by those who disparage the use of any sexual symbolism and are therefore 
unwilling to recognize it elsewhere. Within the limits of the present 
article it would be impossible to demonstrate the veritable universality 
of the doctrine of a divine biunity; we shall not, for example, attempt to 
discuss the Chinese yin and yang, and shall merely allude to the Gnostic 
syzygics. What we propose to show as briefly as possible is that a sym¬ 
bolism of this sort permeates not only the older Indian tradition, of 
which the later Tantrism is, in fact, a perfectly orthodox adaptation, but 
also the Christian ontology from first to last. 

In the Vedic tradition, the Supreme Identity (tad e{am) is “at the 
same time spirant and despirated” (unit avdtam, RV x.129.2), Being 
and Nonbeing 3 (sad-asat) in the uttermost Empyrean, in the womb of 
the Infinite” (RV x.5.7). In the same way in Mund. Up. n.2.1-2, 
the supralogical Brahman is “Being and Nonbeing . . . Intellect and 
Voice” ( sad-asat . . . vdg-manas). The coincidence of the proximate and 
ultimate ( apara and para) Brahman in the Upanisads is that of Mitra- 
varunau in the Vedas. The Supreme Identity is equally bipolar whether 
one thinks of “It” as masculine or feminine: so one asks with respect to 
the Magna Mater, Natura Naturans Crcatrix, the Infinite (virdj, aditi), 
“Who knoweth Her progenitive duality?” ( mithunatvam , AV vm.9.10); 
and conversely, “He (Brahman) is a womb” (yonis ca giyate, VS 1.4.7.27). 
But if the conjoint principles are considered in their reciprocity, it is the 
manifested God that is the masculine and un manifested Godhead that 
is the feminine power, as being the inexhaustible reservoir of all possibil¬ 
ity, including that of manifestation: it is, then, Mitra that inseminates 
Varuna (PB xxv.io.ro), Krishna who “deposits the embryo in the Great 
Brahman, my womb ... mine ultimate Nature ( para prakrti), the womb 
of all existence” (BC. xiv.3 and vii.5, 6), and “Into the womb of the In¬ 

2 To what extent “Tantrism” and “Saktism” are to be identified has been dis¬ 

cussed by Glasenapp in OZ, XII (1936), >20-133, where it is concluded that “a 
starting point for the Sakta doctrines is given in the philosophy of 'Speech (vac) 
of the Mantra-Sastras." See also the same author’s “Die Entstehung des Vajrayana, 
ZDMG XC (1936), 546-572; Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Essai stir les origines de la mys¬ 
tique indienne, Paris and Bucharest, 1936; & K. Das, Su\u or Divine Pouter, Cal¬ 
cutta, 1934; Coomaraswamy, "Parhvrtti = Transformation, Regeneration, Anagogy, 
1933, and "A Note on the Asvamedha,” 1936. . 

3 “Nonbeing” must not be understood to mean a nothingness: Nonbeing is 
predicated of the Infinite qua “non-Ens,” not quia “non Est”; i.e., negatively, but 

not by way of privation. Cf. G. de Mengel, “La Notion de l’absolu dans diverses 

formes de la tradition,” Le Voile d’lsis (June 1929)- 


DIVINE BIUNITY 

finite that Soma puts the embryo” (RV ix.74.5), in accordance with RV 
x.121.7, “Waters wherein was laid the universal embryo,” namely, the 
“Golden Germ,” Hiranyagarbha. 

Intellect and Voice (manas and vac) are One ab intra: “The Voice is 
verily Brahman in the uttermost Empyrean” (TS vn.iSe). But “This 
Brahman is Silence” (Sankaracarya on VS m.2.17). Just as the incanta¬ 
tion (brahman) is there inaudibly the Brahman, so is the Voice unvoiced; 
the Intellect is there “de-mented” of itself, the Voice unuttered. 4 It is only 
when these two arc divided, when heaven and earth are pillared apart 
by the axis of the universe (s\ambha, erravpo s), that Intellect and Voice 
become the “poles of the Vedas” (vedasya dni, AA 11.7), respectively 
celestial and chthonic, then only that Being and Nonbeing take on an 
ethical qualification as of Life and Death, Good and Evil, divided from 
one another as the hither from the farther shore by the width of the 
universe: it is from a position here below that one prays, “Lead us from 
Nonbeing to Being, Darkness to Light” (BU 1.3.28). Nonbeing then 
acquires, indeed, the value non Est, inasmuch as it refers to all things 
under the Sun, of which Augustine says that as compared to God “nec 
pulchra sunt nec bona sunt nec sunt” (Confessions xi.4) : 5 the creation 
and cosmic crucifixion arc not merely the necessary means of redemption, 
but also the very antithesis of the last end, which must be the same as 
the first beginning. Accordingly, as RV X.24.5 expresses it, “When the 
conjoint pair were parted, the Devas moaned, and cried ‘Let them be 
wed again’”; and hence the enactment of the marriage in ritual, sym¬ 
bolic of the reunion of Indra and Indrarii in the heart, so poignantly 
described in the analogy of human union in SB x.5.2.11-15. 


Let us consider now one of the many texts describing the divine pro¬ 
cession from interior to exterior operation. In PB vii.6.1-6, “Prajapati, 0 


4 RV x.27.1, “Beyond this here, assuredly, there is another sound” (srava id ena 
paro anyad asti ); Plotinus, Enneads 1.6.3, “Harmonies unheard create the harmonies 
we hear and wake the soul to the one essence in another nature”—which is the 
essential function alike of the Vedic and Christian liturgies. 

See also MU vi.34, “The mind must be brought to a stop (mano nirddhavyam),” 
with many parallels, Brahmanical and Buddhist; and Meister Eckhart, “The mind 
must be de-mented. . . . None may attain be he not stripped of all mental matter.” 

' Augustine continues, making a distinction of two kinds of knowledge, empirical 
and absolute, analogous to the Indian avidya and vidya —“Scientia nostra scicntiac 
tuae comparata ignorantia est.” For the unreality of things as they are in themselves, 
C i? CtS °f ^ eter x xxix, “there is naught else that is save Thee only.” 

The implications of the name “Prajapati” and of the designation of “creatures” 
3 5 praja, literally “progeny,” arc the same as those of Acts 17:28, “We are the 
offspring of God.” 


232 


233 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

being One and desiring to be Many, with Intellect looked upon the Si¬ 
lence: what was in Intellect, became the ‘Great.’ He perceived. This 
embryo of Myself is hidden within Me: I shall bring it to birth by means 
of the Voice.’ 7 He separated off the Voice: She went the way of the 
Vehicle of Passing-over, so-called because it swiftly ‘bringeth over. Thence 
the ‘Great’ was duly born: of which Prajapati spake that ‘This is the 
greatness of the Great, that it was so long a time within.’ The ‘Great’ 
was unto Prajapati even as his eldest Son.” 

The Son is thus already in the undivided unity of the conjoint prin¬ 
ciples the Father’s image in himself, per verbum in intellectu conceptum ; 8 
and this conception is Eckhart’s “act of fecundation latent in eternity. 
Prajapati’s “contemplation of the Silence” is unmistakably a vital opera¬ 
tion : the wording tusnim tnanasd dhydyat closely corresponds to that of 
RV x.71.2, manasd vacam akrata , “had intercourse by Intellect with the 
Voice,” and SB vi.1.2.9, sa manasaiva vacant mithunam samabhavat, sa 
garbhy abhavat, “He had intercourse by Intellect with Voice, He became 
pregnant.” That Prajapati divides the Voice from himself (which Voice 
had been his “Silence”), vacant vyasrjata, corresponds to BU vi.4.2, “He 
separated the Woman,” striyam asrjata —“This Voice is indeed a maiden, 
yosa vayam vdk_, SB m.2.1.19—and to St. Augustine’s “I made myself a 
Mother of whom to be born” ( Contra V Hacreses 5). It is precisely be¬ 
cause the Father himself takes birth through the Mother that there is a 

7 “What was engendered had been life in Him" (John 1:4, from the Greek and 
according to the traditional punctuation). That the Vulgate renders 0 yeyovt 
by quod factum est abstracts from the original meaning the sense of vital operation. 
Notwithstanding that to generate and to make are the same in divinis , the words 
themselves are not synonymous, inasmuch as they consider the same thing under 
different aspects. The Latin version suggests what de Gaigneron has called an ef¬ 
fort to “ ‘denaturer,’ pour ne pas scandaliscr." The Nicaean Council, however, 
maintained that the Son was “begotten, not made,” and we find accordingly in the 
credo gentium non factum , rrfiivra. ov 7 roir/OevTa. 

s Said by St. Thomas with reference to the artist’s operation in the likeness or 
divine creation; the mental concept of the work to be done is literally the artist’s 
child. A similar application occurs in the Indian texts, for example, SB ni.24.11, 
“Intellect prevents the Voice . . . were it not for the Intellect, the Voice would 
speak incoherently”; SB 1v.67.xo, “The Voice speaks not but what is contemplated 
by Intellect”; TS 11.5.11.5, "What he contemplates by Intellect (yad dht manasa 
dhyavati), that he utters by the Voice”; cf. RV 1.20.2, where the Rbhus, the artists 
of the gods, “wrought by conjoining Intellect with Voice” (vacoyuja tataksur ma¬ 
nasa , where ta\s has the sense of working like a carpenter with an axe on wood, 
in this case that wood of which the world is made). The work of art is always the 
embodiment of a conception. See Coomaraswamy, “The Vedic Doctrine of 'Silence 
[in die present volume— ed.] . 


DIVINE BIUNITY 

coessentiality of the Son with the Father, as in AB vn.13: “Becoming an 
embryo, he enters the wife, the mother, and being renewed, is born again 
(punar . . . jay ate).” There is a delegation and transmission of the uni¬ 
versal Nature in the genealogia regni Dei just as there is of a particular 
human nature in a dynastic succession of functional types; it may be 
added that a “rebirth” in this sense—“the doer aright is ordinately born 
in his children,” RV vi.70.3; “my children are my coming to be again,” 
JUB m.27.17; “that he has engendered is his going on again,” CU m.17.3 
—constitutes all that is, properly speaking, the Indian doctrine of the 
reincarnation of the individual, as distinguished from that of the trans¬ 
migration of the Spiritual Person who, when the body dies, “hurries again 
to a womb,” BU iv.3.36—reincarnation and transmigration coinciding 
only in divinis. The separated Voice now assumes a vehicular function, 
that of the liturgy in its verbal aspect, the Rc, elsewhere identified with 
this world and the Earth. The “Great” ( brhat , implying an indefinite 
extension in time and space), at first contained as an embryo ( garbha) 
within the Unity and now transferred by vital operation to the Mother, 
in whom it waxes, and of whom it is born, is primarily Agni, the visible 
and audible Prajapati, 9 considered here in a liturgical aspect: “He is born 
from the Titan’s loins and shines in the Mother’s lap” (RV m.29.14), the 
altar-womb of Mother Earth. 10 That the “Great” is said to have lain 
“great while within” ( jyog antar) is a form of expression characteristic for 
Agni, as in RV x.124.1, “a great while hast Thou lain in the long dark¬ 
ness” ( jyog eva dir gharri tama asayistah), and for his cognate Dlrghasravas 
as in PB xv.3.25, where the “Far-cry” “was long in exile and in want of 
food” ( jyog aparuddho' sanayah [not yet come “eating and drinking”]). 

9 Agni (or Indra, Surya, or Soma) is as much the “Great Liturgy" (bp had u\tha) 
as, literally, a Fire. Cf. RV v.87.1, where the hymns are described as “born of the 
Voice" ( vdci-nispannd ). We have discussed elsewhere the identity in divinis of 
sound and light. The Son is as much a resonance as luminous and calorific. The 
Son of God is an utterance; “In the beginning, this world was unuttcred” (MU 
vi.6). 

10 In Christian nativities of the Byzantine type, where there is a broken cave in 
place of the later and more familiar ruined stable (the significance of both is the 
same in the last analysis, as is also the case in the Vedic tradition, where the crea¬ 
tive act involves the breaking open of a cave which is also a stable of cattle), it is 
made as clear as possible that the Theotokos is the Earth, Gaia. It is, moreover, 
vith perfect accuracy that Wolfram von Eschenbach sings, “the Earth was Adam’s 
mother . . . yet still was the Earth a maid. . . . Two Men have been born of maidens, 
®nd God hath the likeness ta’en of the son of the first Earth-maiden . . . since 
He wilIe d to be Son of Adam” ( Parzifal , I, ix.549 ff.). 


234 


233 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


The worlds are ever impatient for the birth and coming forth by day: 
“When shall the Child be born?” RV x.95.12. 

Another and very informative text is that of BU 1.4.1-4. Here the ac¬ 
count of the creation begins with the Spirit ( atman) “alone in the aspect 
of Person ( purusa ).” This person in the beginning “was of such sort as 
are a man and a woman closely embraced (ctdvan dsa yatha stri-puman- 
sau samparisvaktau). He desired a second. He caused that Spiritual-Self 
of his to fall atwain (atmanam dvedhapatayat)}' Thence came into be¬ 
ing ‘husband and wife.’ ... He had intercourse with Her: thence were 
human beings engendered ( mannsya. ajayanta). In the same way He 
and She assuming other than human forms begat their like in these 
animal types. 12 

Thus once more the One becomes Many by an act of generation. Again, 
the converse operation by which the conceptually separated self is re¬ 
united to the ever undivided Self or Spiritual Essence is a deification 
described as a marriage: “This is that form of his that is beyond the 
meters, 13 that hath smitten away all evil, and that hath no fear. It is as 
when one is closely embraced ( samparisvaktah , corresponding to sampa- 
risvaktau, above) by a darling bride and knows naught of a within or 
a without, even so that the (spiritual) Person (of a man) embraced by 
the prognostic Spirit ( prajndtmand )“ knows naught of a within nor a 
without. That is his true form, in which his desire is obtained, the Spirit 
is the whole of his desire, he has no unfulfilled desire, nor any grief 
(BU iv.3.21). 

11 As in RV x.27-23, “In the dwelling of the gods had been the first; from their 
diremption sprang the latter.” 

1 RV 1.179.2, nu patriir vrsabhir jagamyuh ; x.5.2, vrjano satnjagmtre . . . 
arvatibhih. “Our original nature was by no means the same as it is now. . . . For 
•man-woman’ (ivSpoywov) was then a unity in form no less than name,” Sym¬ 
posium 1896. . - . 

15 Aticchanda, usually rendered as “beyond desires,” but we think it means, 
rather, “beyond the meters,” which arc the means by which he is approached. ^ 

14 Prajniitrnan, the fore-knowing and all-knowing Spirit, whose true ° rm , 
transcending all distinction of subject and object, is a “unitary condensation of prior 
gnosis” (ehjbhuta prajmma-ghana, Mur.d. Up. v; krtsna prajnana-ghana, BU w.5.13;, 
i.c., a single totality of knowledge not derived from any source external to itselt 
“the One Word of the Ineffable which is the Gnosis of the Whole’ (Pistis Sophia, 
Codex Askew, ed. Petermann, p. 233). Prajna is etymologically and semantically 
the equivalent of the Gnostic prognosis (erpoy vaunt), spoken of in the Apocryp ion 
of John as belonging to the male-female Pentad of the Aeons of the Father and 
as having been- the first gift bestowed by the Invisible One upon the First Man, 
the Virginal Spirit, the Image of Himself (cited from Schmidt, m Charlotte A. 
Baynes, A Coptic Gnostic Treatise, Cambridge, 1933, pp. 8, 9). 


236 


DIVINE BIUNITY 


It would scarcely be an exaggeration to say that the whole ontology of 
the Vedic tradition, alike in the Samhitas and in the Brahmanas and 
Upanisads, is expressed rather typically than incidentally in terms of 
sexual symbolism. We have not by any means exhausted the material, 
some of which is far more outspoken than are the texts that have been 
discussed; but we think that enough has been said to demonstrate the 
perfect orthodoxy of the Tantras in these respects. It remains to consider 
the divine polarity and bisexuality in Christian scripture and exegesis. 


The problem is directly suggested by the doctrine of the two-fold, 
temporal and eternal, birth of the Son of God. Let us remember that it is 
impossible to think of these as having been two different events in the 
divine life, which is intrinsically uneventful. Indeed, as St. Thomas says 
himself, “On the part of the child there is but one filiation in reality, 
although there be two in aspect” (Sum. Theol. m.35.5 ad 3). All this sug¬ 
gests that there must have been an eternal as well as a temporal Madon¬ 
na. 18 And that is clearly what is implied by Meister Eckhart: “His birth 
in Mary ghostly was to God better pleasing than his nativity of her in 
the flesh” (Evans ed., I, 418). If St. Thomas says that “eternal filiation 
does not depend on a temporal Mother” (Sum. Theol. m.35.5 2 )> 

are we not entitled to add, “but on an eternal Mother”? Who then is 
Eckhart’s “Mary ghostly” but “that divine Nature by which the Father 
begets” (Sum. Theol. 1.45.5.6), Natura naturans, Creatrix? 

In case it should seem that we are forcing the sense of St. Thomas, let 
us consider the Thomist doctrine of the divine procession. “The procession 
of the Word in divinis is called a generation. 18 . . . Generation means the 


[wn uie two /ipnrocntcs, one Vvpdna, me elder daughter ot Heaven (Oiipa- 
vos), the other, the younger, daughter of Zeus and Dione, called UavSt/pot 
(= Vaisvanara), cf. Symposium i8od.) 

18 It may be remarked that it is a cardinal doctrine of Christianity that there is 
no potendality or passivity in God, who is all in act. On the other hand, while for 
St. Thomas ‘The power of generation belongs to God” (Sum. Theol. 1.41.5, and 
as must also be assumed from the general use of ylyvop.<u side by side with Troieoi 
in the Greek New Testament), he says also that “In every act of generation there 
is an active and a passive principle” (Sum. Theol. 1.98.2c). A reconciliation can be 
e ected if we consider that the conjoint principles in divinis are not two separate 
eings; just as in the case of the Three Persons, of whom there can be predicated 
c laracteristic functions without impugning their co-essentiality. There is no un- 
rea ized potentiality in God; at the same time His inexhaustible potentiality re¬ 
mains intact without diminution; as in BU v.i, “When plenum is taken from 
P enum, plenum remains.” The conjoint principles in divinis are those of a static 
ssence (bhutata) and dynamic Power ( sakti ) [Eckhart, Evans ed., p. 276, “Es- 


237 




MAJOR ESSAYS 


DIVINE BIUNITY 


origin of any living thing from a living conjoint principle {a principio 
vivente conjuncto) ; and this is rightly called ‘nativity. ... So, then, the 
procession of the Word in divtnis is of the nature of a generation. For it 
proceeds in the manner of an intelligible act, which is a vital operation 
(operatio vitae). . . . Therefore is He rightly called begotten, and Son. 
Hence also that these things which belong to the generation of living 
things are used in Scripture to denote the procession of the divine Wis¬ 
dom; that is to say, by way of conception and birth ( conceptione et 
partu ); for, as it has been said of the person of the Divine Wisdom, 
‘When there were no depths, I was brought forth (concepta). Before the 
hills was I brought forth ( parturiebar )”’ {Sum. Theol. 1.27.2c and ad 2, 
citing Prov. 8:24, 25). 

The whole of Proverbs 8 recalls RV x.125. Compare, for instance, “Unto 
you, O men, I call. . . . Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and 
the opening of my lips shall be right things. ... I am understanding; I 
have strength. By me kings reign. ... I love them that love me. . . . 
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works 
of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the 
earth was. . . . When he prepared the heavens I was there. ... I was 
by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, re¬ 
joicing always before him, rejoicing in the habitable parts of his earth; 
and my delights were with the sons of men. . . . All they that hate me 
love death,” with “I wend with the Rudras, Vasus, Adityas, and several 
Angels; I am the support of Mitravarunau, IndragnI, and the paired 
Alvins. ... 1 am the Queen, in whom all goods are garnered, most 
knowledgeable. . . . Through me all eat the bread of life, whoever secs, 
or breathes, or hears; though unawares, all these abide in me. Hear ye 
my faithful saying. I, none but I, utter what is most pleasant, both to 

sence, so far as it is active in the Father, is Nature”; cf. Hermes, Asclepius m.21]; 
when these are actually divided, static and dynamic become active and passive, 
and this is one of those senses in which it can be said that “Nature recedes from 
likeness to God,” inasmuch as She becomes the recipient of form; and then it can 
be said, with Dante, “cima ncl mondo, in che puro atto fu produtto. Pura potenza 
tenne la parte ima” ( Paradise xxix.32-34), “Summit of the world, where pure act 
came into being; pure potentiality was in the nether part.” [On Mathnawi 1.2437. 
“She is a ray of God, she is not your darling: she is creative, you might say she is 
not created,” Wali Muhammad in his Sharh-i-Mathnawi (Lucknow, 1894), P- ON 
comments: “for the attributes, agens and pattern, belong to the essence of the Creator 
and both are manifested in woman.” Note also RV 111.31.2, any ah \arta . . . anya 
rndhan.] 


men and angels: him whom I love I make an Awful-power, Brahman, or 
prophet, or Comprehensor. ... I that am the matrix in the Waters and 
the Sea, bring forth the Father, [i.e., as the Son] when I originate, being 
his head. . . . My breath it is, forsooth, that blows the Gale, whenas I 
take in hand the several worlds to fashion them: so far my sway, I do 
insist beyond these heaven and this wide earth.” In the first of these cita¬ 
tions it is Sophia, and in the second Vac that speaks. 17 

It is sufficiently clear from the text of St. Thomas quoted above that 
his “conjoint principle” in divinis corresponds to the notions of Essence 
and Nature (“that Nature by which the Father begets,” Sum. Theol. 
1.41.5c); and that he identifies this Nature with the “Wisdom” of Prov¬ 
erbs, Dante’s Sophia, whom he (Dante) calls “the bride of the Emperor 
of Heaven, and not bride alone, but sister and most beloved daughter,” 
and of whom he says that “She exists in him in true and perfect fashion 
as if eternally wedded to him” {Convito m.12). 18 

A greater authority can be cited in Gen. 1 =25, 26, “And God said, Let 
us make man in our own image, after our likeness. ... So God created 
man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and 
female created he them.” 19 The likeness is exemplary. The created form 
of humanity is not that of this man as distinguished from that of this 
woman, but that of their common humanity: “He called their name 
Adam,” Gen. 5:2. This Man (Adam) is, in fact, a syzygy, until the Deity 
brings forth the woman out of him, that he may not be alone: 20 “She 


17 [Cf. CU vi.1.4, vaca arambhana, only cause of the variety of appearances; on 
Hokhmah (= Sophia) as God’s “wife” or “daughter,” cf. D. Nielsen, “Die alt- 
semitische Muttergotten,” ZDMG, XCII (1938), 550.] 

18 Whom also Dante addresses as “Virgin Mother, daughter of thy Son” (Paradiso 
xxxm.r). A similarly “incestuous” confusion of relationships is met with in the 
Indian, and even also the Islamic formulations (cf. Coomaraswamy, “The Darker 
Side of Dawn,” 1935, p. 5, and A New Approach to the Vedas, 1933, p. 3 and 
nn - 9 and 10); in other words, the polarity of the conjoint principles is not merely 
analogous to that of male and female in one particular and marital relation, but 
in all possible reciprocal relations. 

On this passage see the Commentary in the Zohar I, 90-92, “the Father said 
to the Mother by means of the Word” and “the Man of emanation was both male 
and female, from the side of both Father and Mother.” 

Observe the parallel in BU 1.4, where Prajapati divides himself, desiring a sec¬ 
ond, because “for one who is alone there is no delight.” Another parallel that 
may be noted appears in connection with the Biblical description of Eve as having 
een made from Adam’s rib (Gen. 2:21-22), just as in RV x.85.23 the daughter 
lnu ' s called die “rib” ( parsu ), “through whom (under the name of Ida or 
.a) he generated this race of men” (SB 1.8.1.10). This Ila is also a name of the 
mother of Agni (RV m.29). 


238 


239 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man,’ Gen. 2:2^r L 
“In this likeness,” then, could never have been said had there not already 


been an archetype of this polarity in God—that is to say, of course, in 
principle, for we are not speaking of a composition in divinise- The 
Christian doctrine, moreover, like the Indian, envisages an ultimate re¬ 


union of the divided principles, there where “there is neither male nor 
female: for ye are all one [Skr. e\i-bhuta] in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:2s). 23 
That is where it is no longer a question of this man or that woman, but 
only of that Universal Man of whom Boehme says that “this champion 
or lion is no man or woman, but he is both” ( Signature. Rerum xi.43). 

If it be objected, finally, that all this sexual phraseology is a sort of 
rhetoric and not to be taken literally, we say that while it is not a matter 
of rhetoric in any “literary” sense, it is a matter of analogy and sym¬ 
bolism: as is explicit in both passages from the Brhaddranya\a Upamsad 
cited above, it is not a question of a man and a woman in fact, nor of any 
existence, but of the form of being which is “as if it were ( yatha) that of 
a man and woman closely embraced.” Our whole intention has been to 
indicate that an adequate symbolism of this sort has been universally 
employed in the unanimous and orthodox tradition and, more specifically, 
within the limits of the present article, to show in what like manner it 
has been employed in the Hindu and Christian forms of the transmitted 
revelation. 


21 “All living creatures, having been till then bisexual, were parted asunder, and 

man with the rest; and so there came to be males on the one part, and likewise 
females on the other part” (Hermes, lib. 1.18). . . 

22 Cf. the Apocalypse of John (cited by Baynes, tr., A Coptic Gnostic Treatise, 
p. 14), “The Three, the Father, the Mother, and the Son, the perfect Power”; and 
SA vn.15, “All that is declared to be One. For the Mother and the Father and the 

Child are this all." , . ( 

23 [Gal. 3:28 is cited by St. Thomas, Sum. Theol. 1.93.6 ad 2, in illustration or 
his own statement, “the image of God belongs to both sexes, since it is in the mind, 
wherein is no sexual distinction”; Omnc quod generatur, generatur ex contrano. 
Sum. Theol. 146.1 ad 3.] 



It has now for some time been fully recognized that Islamic analogies 
are of singular value for an understanding of Dante’s Divina Commedia, 
not only in connection with the basic form of the narrative’ but as re¬ 
gards the methods by which the theses are communicated. 2 And this 
would hold good, entirely apart from the consideration of any problems 
of “influence” that might be considered from the more restricted point 
of view of literary history. It has been justly remarked by H. A. Wolfson 
that the mediaeval Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin “philosophical literatures 
were in fact one philosophy expressed in different languages, translatable 
almost literally into one another.” 3 Again, if this is true, it is not merely a 
result of proximity and influence nor, on the other hand, of a parallel 
development, but because “Human culture is a unified whole, and in 
the various cultures one finds the dialects of one spiritual language,’” 
because “a great universal line of metaphysics is evident among all peo- 

[This essay was first published in Speculum, XI (1936).— ed.] 

1 See Miguel Asm y Palacios, La Escatologia musulmana cn la Divina Comedia 
(Madrid, 1919), and the abridged translation by H. Sunderland, Islam and the 
Divine Comedy (London, 1926). 

2 Luigi Valli, II Languaggio segreto di Dante e dci “Fedeli d‘Amove" (Rome, 
1928); Rene Guenon, L’Esolerisme de Dante (Paris, 1925); idem, “Le Langage 
secret de Dante et des ‘Fidelcs d'Amour,’ ” and “ ‘Fideles d’Amour’ et ‘Cours 
d’Amour,’” Le Voile d'lsis, XXXVII (1932), and XXXVIII (1933). Indian and 
Zoroastrian comparisons have been made in Angelo de Gubernatis, “Dante e l’ln- 
dia, Gionale della Societa Asiatica Italiana, III (1889), and “Le Type indien de 
Lucifer chez Dante.” Actes du X c Congres des Orientalistes\ and J. J. Modi, Dante 
Papers: Vtraf, Adamnan, and Dante, and Other Papers (London, 1914). Many of 
the problems are bound up with those of the history of the Templars and Rosicru- 
cians. 

The Philosophy of Spinoza, Cambridge, Mass. (1934), I, ro. 

- Alfred Jeremias, Handbuch dev altorientalischen Geisteskultur (Berlin, 1929), 
P- x. 


240 


241 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

pies.” 5 Without going too far afield in time or space—and one could go 
at least as far as Sumeria and China-it will suffice for present purposes 
to say that what is affirmed by Wolfson for Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin 
will be of equal validity if Sanskrit is added to the list. 

In recent years I have repeatedly drawn attention to the remarkable 
doctrinal and even verbal equivalents that can be demonstrated in mediae¬ 
val Latin and Vcdic Indian traditional literature, in respect to which, 
if borrowing were assumed, priority would have to be allowed to the 
Vedic side; but borrowing is not assumed. As these equivalences are not 
likely to be familiar to my present readers, a few will be cited here; and 
striking as they may be, they arc merely samples of countless others of 
the same sort. 

Wc find it said, for example, in connection with the orthodox doctrine 
of Christ’s two births, eternal and temporal, that “on the part of the 
child there is but one filiation in reality, though there be two in aspect 
(Sum. Theol. m.35.5 ad 3); cf. “His birth in Mary ghostly was to God 
better pleasing than his nativity of her in the flesh (Eckhart, Evans ed., 
1,418). And inasmuch as Christ’s filiation is in any case a “vital opera¬ 
tion from a conjoint principle (a principio conjunctiva)," and the “eternal 
filiation does not depend upon a temporal mother” (Sum. Theol. 1.27.2c 

and m.35.5 ad 2 )’ il; f° llows that Christ is mothcred in cternit y 110 less 
than in time; the mother in eternity, Eckhart’s “Mary ghostly,” being 
evidently “that divine nature by which the Father begets” (Sum. Theol. 
1.41.5c), “That nature, to wit, which created all others” (St. Augustine, 
De trinitate xiv.9)—Natura naturans, Creatrix universalis, Deus, inas¬ 
much as essence and nature are one in Him, in the Supreme Identity, 
who is the unity of the conjoint principles. Finally, inasmuch as the 
divine life is uneventful, there is evidently but one act of generation, 
though there be “two in aspect, corresponding to the two relations in 
the parents, as considered by the intellect” (Sum. Theol. m.35.5 ad 3). 
It is, then, Latin Christian doctrine that there is one generation, but 
two mothers logically distinguishable. The exact equivalent of this, in 
the fewest possible words, occurs in the Gopatha Brdhmana 1.33, “two 
wombs, one act of generation (due yoni e\am mithunam).” This brief 
text, on the one hand, resumes the familiar Vedic doctrine of the bimother- 
hood of Agni who is dvimdta— as, for example, in RV m.2.2 and 11, He 
became the son of two mothers ... he was quickened in unlike wombs, 
and RV 1.113.1-3, where Night, “when she hath conceived for the Suns 

5 j. Sauter, "Die altchinesische Metaphysik und ihre Verbundcnheit nut dcr 
abendlandischcn,” Archiv jur Rcchts- und Sozial-philosophie, XXVIII (i 934 )> 9 °- 


DANTE’S PARAD 1 SO 

quickening, yields the womb to [her sister] Dawn”—and, on the other, 
to the derivative dogma of the dual motherhood (or alternatively mother¬ 
hood and foster motherhood) by which the eternal Avatar is manifested 
in Vaisnavism, Buddhism, and Jainism, where by a somewhat materialized 
formulation the divine child is actually transferred from the womb of the 
spiritual power to that of the temporal power, represented respectively by 
the queens Devananda and Tisala. 6 

In AB 111.43, the pattern of the Sacrifice performed in imitation of what 
was done in the beginning is described as “without beginning or end. .. . 
That which is its beginning is also its end, that again which is its end is 
also its beginning, they do not discriminate which is anterior and which 
posterior,” with which may be compared Boethius, De consolatione philo- 
sophiae 1, prose 6, “is it possible that you who know the beginning of all 
things should not also know their end?”; Sum. Theol. 1.103.2c, “the end 
of a thing corresponds to its beginning”; Eckhart (Evans ed., I, 224), 
“the first beginning is because of the last end”; and Dante, Paradiso 
xxix.20, 30, ne prima ne poscia . . . sanza distinzione in essordire. 

The definition of a personal as distinguished from an animal nature in 
AA n.3.2, viz. “A person ( purusa ) is most endowed with understanding, 
he speaks what has 'been discriminated, he draws distinctions, he knows 
the morrow, he knows what is and is not mundane, and by the mortal 
seeks the immortal,” while “as for the other cattle, theirs is a valid 
perception merely according to hunger and thirst, they do not speak 
what has been discriminated,” etc., is as nearly as possible identical with 
the classical definition in Boethius, Contra Evtychen 11: “There is no 
person of an ox or any other of the animals which dumb and unreasoning 
live a life of sense alone, but we say there is a person of a man, of God, 
or an angel... there is no person of a man if animal or general.” 

“ ‘he who is’ is the principal of all names applied to God,” says St. 
John of Damascus (De fide orthodoxa 1); so in KU vi.13, “He is to be 
laid hold of as ‘he is.’ ” With respect to the “thought of God,” which “is 
not attainable by argument” (KU 11.9), that “His is that thought by 
whom it is unthought, and if he thinks it, then he does not understand” 
corresponds to Dionysus (De mystica theologica 1): “Which not to see 
or know is really to see and know,” and Ep. ad Caium Mon.: “If any¬ 
one seeing God understood what he saw, he saw not God himself, but 
one of those things that are God’s.” 

In connection with the Immaculate Conception, St. Thomas (Sum. 

6 For further parallels, see Coomaraswamy, “The 'Conqueror’s Life’ in Jaina 
Painting,” JISOA, III (1935), 132. 


242 


243 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

Theol. m.32.1 ad 1) remarks that while in this case the Spiritus entered 
the material form without means, in normal generation “the power of 
the soul, which is in the semen, through the Spirit enclosed therein, 
fashions the body.” This corresponds not only to the brief formulation 
of RV vm.3.24, “The Spirit is the father’s part, raiment of the body 
(atma pitus tanur vasah)” but more explicitly to JUB in.10.5, “It is 
inasmuch as the Breath-of-life inhabits the expended seed, that he [who 
is to be born] takes shape (yadd hyeva retas si\tam prana avi'saty atha 
tat sambhavati)," and Kaus. Up. 1x1.3, "It is as the Breath (prana) that 
the Intelligizing Spiritus ( prajhatman ) grasps and erects the body.” 

Sum. Theol. 1.45.1c, “Creation, which is the emanation of all being, 
is from nonbeing, which is nothing ( Crcatio, quae est emanatio totius 
esse, est ex non ente, quod est nihil),” combined with 1.14.8c, “The 
knowledge of God is the cause of things. For the knowledge of God is 
to all creatures what the knowledge of the artificer is to things made 
by his art (sicut scicntia artificis se habet ad artificiata)” and with the 
doctrine of the Spirit as the animating power in the act of generation, 
whether human or divine (see above)—all this is represented in a briefer 
formulation of the Rg Veda. Thus RV x.72.2: “The Master of the 
Spiritual power like as a blacksmith with his bellows welded all these 
generations of the Angels; in the primal aeon, being was begotten 
from nonbeing,” where “Blacksmith” 7 ({armara , “maker,” “workman”), 
like Tva$tr (the “Carpenter,” 8 who in the Rg Veda “hews by intellect 
[manasa ta\sati\," in the sense of the Scholastic per verbum in intel¬ 
lect conccptum , predicated of the artificer in Sum. Theol. 1.45.6c) and 
Visvakarman (“All-maker,” later the patron aspect of deity with respect 
to the crafts and worshiped as such in their lesser mysteries), corre¬ 
sponds to Deus sicut artifex in Scholastic imagery; and “welded with 
his bellows” (samadhamat) alludes to the “blast” of the Spirit, the 
animating Gale (vdta, vdyu) by which the Son himself is “aroused” 
(Agni, vatajutah, RV 1.65.4, vi. 6-3, etc.) and “made to blaze” ( dhami - 
tarn, RV 11.24.7), “when Vata blows upon his flame” (RV iv.7.10), 
“that Gale, thy Spiritus that thunders through the universe” (atmd te 
vdtah , etc., RV vn.87.2), “Vayu, spiration of the Angels, whose sound is 
heard indeed, though his form is never seen” (RV x.168.4). 

7 This image of the Master Blacksmith with his bellows admirably illustrates 
Sum. Theol. 1.1.9c: "Spiritual truths arc fittingly taught under the likeness of ma¬ 
terial things.” 

s It is by no means without good and sufficient reasons that Jesus was called the 
"Son of the carpenter," for, indeed, there is a “wood” of which the world is 
wrought by the Master Carpenter. 


DANTE’S PARAD 1 SO 

The most general Scholastic definition of sin, of any kind, is as fol¬ 
lows, “Sin is a departure from the order to the end” (Sum. Theol. 11- 

i. 2i.ic and 2 ad 2), and in connection with the artistic sin, St. Thomas 
goes on to explain that it is a sin proper to the art “if an artist produce 
a bad thing, while intending to produce something good; or produce 
something good, while intending to produce something bad.” In KU 

ii. !.!, he who chooses what he likes most (preyas) rather than what is 
most lovely (sreyas) is said to “deviate from the end” (hiyate arthdt ); 
in SB 11.1.4.6, if a certain part of the rite is wrongly done, “that would be 
a sin (aparaddhi)? just as if one were to do one thing while intending 
to do another; or if one were to say one thing while intending to say 
another; or if one were to go one way while intending to go another.” 

In Sum. Theol. 1.103.5 ad 1: “These things are said to be under the 
sun which are generated and corrupted according to the sun’s move¬ 
ment,” and in (Supp.) 91. 1 ad 1: “The state of glory is not under the 
sun.” In SB 11.3.3.7, “He who glows | the Sun] is this Death [an essential 
name of deity ab intra ]”; accordingly, all creatures below Him are mortal, 
but those beyond Him are Angels (or “Gods”) who arc alive; and x.5.1.4, 
“Everything hitherward from the Sun is in the grasp of Death (mrtyu- 
ndptam).” 

There may also be cited a pair of examples of earlier origin on the Eu¬ 
ropean side. Matt. 10:16, "prudentes sicut serpentes, et simplices sicut 
columbae,” corresponds to RV x.63.4, ahimaya anagasah. Again, whereas 
in Gen. 2:21-22 God “took one of his [Adam’s] ribs, . . . And the rib 
which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman,” and 
3:20, “Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother 
of all living,” so also in the Rg Veda the name of Manu’s daughter is 
the “Rib” (par 'sur ha nama manavi), who under another name, Ida, is 
the mother “through whom he [Manu] generated this race of men” (SB 
1.8.1.10), Manu being in the Hindu tradition the archetype and progeni¬ 
tor of men in the same way as Adam in the Hebrew tradition, the condi¬ 
tion of incest in both formulations depending on the “blood relationship” 
(jamitra) of the original parents. 

A single Islamic example may be added. Whereas St. Augustine, Con¬ 
fessions vii.ii, has, with reference to created things, “A being they have, 
because they are from Thee: and yet no being, because what Thou art 
they are not,” and Sum. Theol., 1.44.1c, “All beings apart from God are 
not their own being, but beings by participation,” we find in JamI, La- 

9 Aparaddhi derives from aparadh , defined by Monier-Williams as “to miss one’s 
aim.” 


244 


245 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

waik xm, “Earth lacks true Being, yet depends thereon—Thou art true 
Being.” 

Not merely could other doctrinal and verbal parallels o£ this sort be 
cited almost ad infinitum 10 —e.g., in connection with such matters as 
Exemplarism, 11 Transubstantiation, and Infallibility—but similar equiva¬ 
lencies could be even more easily demonstrated in the domain of visual 
symbolism, 12 a mode of communication that even more than verbal sym¬ 
bolism is the characteristic idiom of traditional metaphysics. For example, 
there has often been brought out the common valency of the Christian 
rose and Indian lotus as representations of the ground of all manifesta¬ 
tion, the support of being when it proceeds or seems to proceed from 
being to becoming. The case of musical form is the same: “An example 
of the tenacity with which the music of a cult survives is afforded in the 
West by Catholic church music which, deriving from Jewish temple 
singing, stands apart from the quite different art-music of today, like an 
erratic block. There are similar instances in the East, such as those of the 
Indian Samaveda melodies, and in Japan the singing of the No dramas, 
which even in the late courtly and profane environment in which we 
hear it, has preserved its original liturgical significance” (Robert Lach- 
mann, M us if des Orients , Breslau, 1929, pp. 9-10). It is, in fact, the case 
that even the “secular” music of India, where nothing, indeed, can be 
defined as wholly secular, has preserved that quality of endlessness which 
is predicated of the liturgical chant in a passage from the Aitareya Brdh- 
mana cited above and which is equally recognized in Christian plainsong. 

The commonly accepted formula of the existence of a gulf dividing 
Europe from Asia is thus fallacious in the sense that while there is a divi¬ 
sion, the dividing line is traceable not between Europe and Asia norma- 
tively considered but between mediaeval Europe and Asia, on the one 

10 Single parallels might be referred to “coincidence,” which is merely to sub¬ 
stitute description for explanation. If, however, we believe with St. Augustine 
(De diversis quaestionibus r.xxxin.24) that “Nothing in the world happens by 
chance” (a proposition with which the scientist will scarcely quarrel [nor the 
theologian, for whom “if God did not govern by mediate causes, the world would 
be deprived of the perfection of causality," St. Thomas]), three explanations, and 
only three, of repeated and exact “coincidences” are possible: There must have 
been (1) a borrowing on the part of the later source, (2) a parallel development, 
or (3) a derivation from a common anterior source. 

11 Cf. Coomaraswamy, “Vedic Exemplarism" [in this volume— ed.]. 

12 Cf. J. Baltrusaids, Art sumerien, art remain (Paris, 1934), and Coomara¬ 
swamy, “The Tree of Jesse and Oriental Parallels,” Parnassus, VII (1935). 

246 


DANTE’S PARADISO 

hand, and modern Europe on the other: in general and in principle, 
whatever is true for mediaeval Europe will also be found to be true for 
Asia, and vice versa. 

As regards the bearing of all these parallels on the validity of Christian 
doctrine and exegesis: from the Hindu point of view, the natural con¬ 
sequence of collation will be to evoke the consideration, “Christian doc¬ 
trine, judged by Vedic standards, is also orthodox.” The converse recog¬ 
nition, that “Vedic doctrine, judged by Christian norms, is also orthodox,” 
might be, and a priori should be, expected, but given the Christian as¬ 
sumption not only of a knowledge of the truth (which may be freely 
granted) but also of an exclusive possession of this knowledge (such as 
Hindus neither claim for themselves nor grant to any others), all that 
can be predicted for the moment is an acceptance of Vedic data as “ex¬ 
trinsic and probable arguments” (Sum. Theol. 1.1.8 ad 2), just as St. 
Thomas himself, in fact, made use of Aristotle, and just as St. Jerome, 
in discussing the superiority of the virgin to the married estate (Adversus 
Jovinianum 1.42), actually invoked the doctrine of the “Gymnosophists of 
India, amongst whom the dogma is handed down that Buddha, the head 
of their teaching, was born of a virgin from her side.” 

So far as the comparisons that have been so extensively made as be¬ 
tween Christianity and Buddhism (in which field St. Jerome seems to 
have been the pioneer, though the case of Jehoshaphat = Bodhisattva 
must also be borne in mind), or Neoplatonism and Buddhism, arc 
in question, it must be remembered that although the parallels are 
real, nevertheless deductions as to derivation or influence are insecurely 
founded, inasmuch as the Buddhist doctrines are themselves derivative, 
and Christian and Neoplatonic analogies with pre-Buddhist texts can be 
presented in greater number and with greater cogency. For instance, all 
of the details of the Buddha’s nativity, not excluding the detail of lateral 
birth, are, in fact, already traceable in the Vedic nativities of Indra and 
Agni, respectively types of the temporal and spiritual powers, often 
combined in the dual Indragni, king-and-priest. We maintain, in other 
words, the relative independence of the Christian tradition at any one 
time, whether that of Dionysius or that of Dante, at the same time that 
we relate all orthodox teaching, of which the Vedic expression itself is 
merely a late expression, to one common and (as may be added, though 
Ais is not essential to the presently restricted argument) ultimately 
superhuman source. The problems are not essentially, but only acci¬ 
dentally, problems of literary history. 

247 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

Enough has now been said to indicate the principles involved, and 
perhaps to convince the reader that it may not be unreasonable to look in 
Sanskrit as well as in Islamic texts for parallels to or even explanations, 
but not necessarily sources, of particular idioms of thought employed by 
Dante, none of whose ideas are novel, though he clothes the traditional 
teaching in a vernacular form of incomparable splendor, splendor veri- 
tatis. The two passages chosen for comment are selected not because of 
their special importance, nor because they can be more easily paralleled 
than very many others, but as having presented particular difficulties to 
commentators relying only on European sources. Paradiso xxvri.136-138 
reads: 

Cost si fa la pelle bianca nera, 
nel primo as petto della bella figlia 
di quel ch' apporta mane e lascia sera. 

In P. H. Wicksteed’s version: “So blackeneth at the first aspect the white 
skin of his fair daughter who bringeth morn and lcaveth evening.” We 
remark first the parallel in Eckhart, Evans ed., I, 292: “The soul, in hot 
pursuit of God, becomes absorbed in him, . . . just as the sun will swallow 
up and put out the dawn”; [and ibid., p. 365: “Atoned with her Creator, 
the soul has lost her name, for she herself does not exist; God has ab¬ 
sorbed her into him just as the sunlight swallows up the Dawn till it is 
gone”]. The Paradiso text has been called “a difficult and disputed pas¬ 
sage,” although in any case it is admittedly the Sun who, in line 138, 
“bringeth morn and leaveth evening.” Eckhart’s words already indicate 
that the “daughter” must be Dawn. It is true that in Classical mythology, 
Dawn is the sister rather than the daughter of the Sun, but it is just here 
that the Vedic tradition will be of help. For while Dawn is sometimes 
there the sister of the Sun or Fire (RV vi.55.5 and x.3.3), she is typically 
and constantly the daughter, as well as the bride, of the Sun, who is called 
her “ravisher” (jam). She is, indeed, from the Hindu point of view, the 
same as Dante’s “virgin mother, daughter of thy son” (Paradiso xxxm.i); 
the Mother of God, of Christ, by whom “all things were made” (John 
1:3), “for by him were all things created” (Col. 1:16), and as thus the 
Mother of all things, one with Eve in the same sense that Christ is one 
with Adam. It is, indeed, precisely as the Magna Mater, die eine Ma¬ 
donna (Jeremias), that Usas, Dawn, otherwise known as Surya (the 
Sun “goddess,” as distinguished from Surya, the Sun “god”), becomes the 
bride of the Sun in the endless Liebesgeschichte des Himmels (E. Siecke)- 


DANTE’S PARADISO 

Vedic references to these events and especially to Dawn’s destruction by 
her lover, the Sun, who follows after her in hot pursuit (the converse 
of Eckhart’s formulation cited above), are innumerable. In the famous 
hymn of RV x.189, commonly employed as an or at 10 secreta, the Serpent 
Queen (another of the names of Dawn and Mother Earth) is “She who 
moves within the luminous spheres, She as his Voice (vac, fern.) is given 
to the Winged-Sun; when He suspires, then She expires (‘asya prdndt 
apdnati).” 

Dawn’s glorious hour is very transient; “A virgin uncontrolled, She 
cometh forth, foreware of Sun and Sacrifice and Fire” (RV vii.80.2), 
but no sooner has the Sun caught up with her than Fie and She shine out 
together (vn.81.2); no longer shining privately with her own radiance, 
but clothed with the Sun, She now “shines forth in the bright eye of her 
Seducer” (1.92.11). It is often Indra as the Sun that is spoken of as “strik¬ 
ing down the chariot of Dawn” (x.73.6), who thus becomes Indranl, 
the Queen of Heaven, but without distinction of King and Queen. 

This is, furthermore, a purification, for anterior to her procession, Dawn 
has been a “footless snake,” 13 ophidian rather than angelic, Night being 
related to her sister Dawn as Lilith to Eve. It is precisely to this ophidian 
nature that She dies when She proceeds, her Assumption then following 
his Ascension. Drawn through the nave of the solar Wheel, She as Apala 
(“Unguarded” in the sense “unwedded”) is given a sunny skin in place 
of her old snake skin (vm.91), and made “fit to be fondled” (sam'shsti\d\ 
Satyayana Brahmana cited by Sayana). There Heaven and Earth are 
embraced (samslisyatah, JUB 1.5) 14 —which is not a “myth” within the 
current anthropological misunderstanding of the word, but a union 
(mithuna) to be realized “within the heart’s void (hrdayahasa)" by the 
true Cognostic ( samvit) and is the “supreme beatitude” (paramo hy esa 
anandah, SB x.5.2.11), Dante’s piacere eterno (Paradiso xvni.16). 

And all this is significant from the point of view of the interpretation 
of our Dante text, for it has been suggested that the Sun’s bella figlia is 
Humanity, the Sun being “father of each mortal life” (Paradiso xxn.116) 
and man “begotten of man and of the Sun” (cf. De monarchia 1.9 and 
6-7) • There is no antinomy here, for as we have seen, Dawn and Mother 

13 F° r a more detailed presentation see Coomaraswamy, “The Darker Side of 
Dawn,” 1935. 

14 This is in William Blake’s sense the “Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” all the 
earthly properties by which individuation is determined being “hells,” as is ex¬ 
plicit in JUB iv.26; cf. S x.5. 


248 


249 






MAJOR ESSAYS 


DANTE’S PARADISO 


Earth, in the same sense as Adam and Eve—i.e., seminally—are all men, 
Everyman, 15 and Everyman is the Church, the Bride of Christ. To be 
united with Him, Humanity, the Church, must be transformed—in Vedic 
language, must shed her serpent skin and put off evil. Just this is de¬ 
scribed, not only in the story of Apala, but again in that of the marriage 
of Surya (RV x.85.28-33), where the Bride puts off her scaly \rtyd (“po¬ 
tential”) form, evil and inglorious, and in a most felicitous ( sumangali ) 
likeness (“fairest of all fair forms,” as the Satydyana Brahmana describes 
the once reptilian Apala) “assumes her Lord as doth a Bride” (a jay a 
visate patim, RV x.85.29). And this is said as nearly as possible in the 
same way by St. Bonaventura of the Marriage of Christ with his Church: 
“Christ will present his bride, whom he loved in her baseness and all her 
foulness, glorious with his own glory, without spot or wrinkle” ( Do¬ 
minica prima post octavum epiphaniae 11.2). 

We have presented the tradition as to Dawn in some little detail in 
order to remind the reader how dangerous it is, in connection with writers 
of this caliber and with such preoccupations as Dante’s and Eckhart’s, 
who are not bellc-iettrists, 18 though each is the “father” of a language, 
to attribute to individual poetic invention or artistry what are really tech¬ 
nical formulae and symbols with known connotations. At the very least, 
our Vedic citations suffice to give a consistent meaning to Dante’s and 
Eckhart’s words. Both are always aware of much more than they tell; 
as Dante himself forewarns the reader, “miratc la dottrina, che s’ asconde 
sotto il velame degli versi strani” ( Inferno ix.61). It must also be re¬ 
membered that the illustration of Christian doctrine by means of pagan 

15 It will not be forgotten that from the Scholastic point of view, Humanity is a 
form that has nothing to do with time; not the humanity of “humanism,” but a 
creative principle informing every man, and according to which he must be judged. 
Thus, Thierry of Chartres speaks of the forma humanitatis which nur.quam peril, 
and St Thomas says that “humanity is taken to mean the formal parr of a man” 
(Sum. Theol. 1.3.3). [“God assumed manhood and not man” (Meister Eckhart, 
Pfeiffer ed., p. 250).] 

16 Eckhart, “All happiness to those who have listened to this sermon. Had there 
been no one here, I must have preached it to the poor-box"; “work as though no 
one existed, no one lived, no one had ever come upon the earth” (Evans ed., I, 
143 and 308). Dante, “The whole work was undertaken not for a speculative but 
for a practical end . . . the purpose of the whole and of this portion [Paradiso] 
is to remove those who are living in this life from the state of wretchedness and 
to lead them to the state of blessedness” ( Epistle ad Can. Grande 15, 16); BG 
11.47, “Be thy property in works by no means in their fruits,” and 111.9, 'This 
world is enchained by works, save they be directed to the Sacrifice; so do thy 
work unto this end, without concern.” 


symbols was not only from the mediaeval point of view quite legitimate, 
but even persisted in permitted practice until comparatively modern 
times, of which an example can be cited in the work of Calderon. 17 
It is not unreasonable, then, to suppose that both Eckhart and Dante were 
acquainted with traditional doctrines—perhaps initiatory and only orally 
transmitted, or perhaps only not yet traced in extant documents—such 
as have been cited above apropos of il somma sol and bella figlia. 

Our second passage occurs in Paradiso xviiI.iio-iix: 

... da lui si rammenta 

quella virtu ch' e forma per li nidi. 

In Wicksteed’s version, supplying only the capital, this is, “from Him 
cometh to the mind that power that is form unto the nests.” It should be 
hardly necessary to point out that “form” must be taken here, in its usual 
Scholastic and exemplary sense, to be “essential form” (as when it is said 
that “the soul is the form of the body”) and not in the modern vernacular 
sense of “actual form” or shape. Now, quite apart from the parallels to 
be cited below, it may be remarked that nests imply birds, and that both 
imply trees, and that “birds” is traditionally a designation of the Angels, 
or intellectual substances, wings denoting independence of local motion, 
and the “language of birds” that of “angelic communication”; 18 or “birds” 
in a more general way may stand for the quick (in all senses of the 
word) as distinguished from the inanimate and immobile. From this 
point of view, which is, in fact, the right one, “nests” will be the habita¬ 
tions of the Angels and other living beings amongst the branches of the 
Tree of Life, “nest” will signify the phenomenal—bodily or otherwise 
individually appropriated—environment of the soul, and the “power that 
is form unto the nests” will be His who made Man in his own image 
and likeness. Nevertheless, the passage has been regarded as obscure; the 
comments made by Wicksteed and Oelsner, 19 who ask, “But why nests ? 
Are the nests the heavens, nestling one within the other?” etc., are partic¬ 
ularly devious, perhaps because in discussing the Jovian M of verses 94-96, 
although they recognize that the likeness of a bird is intended, they do 

17 Gf. Rene Allar, “Calderon et l’unite des traditions,” Le Voile d’Isis, XL (1935), 
407 ff. 

RV vt, 9.5, “Intellect is the swiftest of birds.” Cf. Rene Guenon, “La Languc 
aes^oiseaux,” Le Voile d’Isis, XXXVI (1931), 667ff. 

Temple Classics Edition, Paradiso, p. 227. 


250 


251 






MAJOR ESSAYS 


not realize that it is precisely the likeness of an eagle that is meant—that 
is, the likeness of God himself, here “exemplified” by Jove—and con¬ 
sequently fail to see that the “nests” are those of beings in that same 
image. 

All that has been said above is explicit in the Vedic tradition, where, 
moreover, of the two words for “nest,” nida and \ulaya, the former at 
once recalls Dante’s nidi. The general significance of “nest” is defined in 
PB xix.15.1: “Nest is offspring, nest is cattle [“great possessions,” “realized 
potentiality”], nest is dwelling.” In RV 1.164.20-22, there occurs the image 
of two Eagles who comradely occupy the Tree of Life and arc the dual 
aspect of the Deity, who on the one hand sees all things 20 and on the 
other eats of the fig; 21 and the image of others perched below, “who 
chant with ever-open eyes their share of life 22 ( amrtasya bhagam anime- 
sam . . . abhi svaranti), taste of the honey, and beget their children,” but 
of whom “none can reach the summit of the Tree who knoweth not the 
Father, the great Herdsman of the Universe.” 23 But inasmuch as He 
whose being is Contemplative {dhirah) has also “made his home in me 
that am made ready here {md dhirah pakam atravivesa)," we find him 
elsewhere spoken of not only as “nestless” 21 ( ariidah , RV x.55.5-6, Svet. 

20 The Sun is Varuna’s eye, with which 1 -Ie surveys the whole universe (RV, 
passim)-, none can even wink without His knowledge (RV vii.86.6); He counts 
the winkings of men’s eyes and knows all that man does, thinks, or devises (AV 
iv.16.2, 5), which knowledge on His part is speculative ( vi'svam sa actio varuno 
yatha dhiya, RV x.ii.i). Cf. Luke 12:6-7, “ Are noc five sparrows sold for two 
farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs 
of your head are all numbered”; Heb. 4:12-13, “For the word of God ... if a 
discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature 
that is not manifest in His sight”; Sum. Theol. 1.14.16c and ad 2, “God has of Him¬ 
self a speculative knowledge only . . . [in which] He possesses both speculative 
and practical knowledge of all other things.” 

21 Luke 7:34, “The Son of man is come eating and drinking”; Deut. 4:24, “God 
is a consuming fire.” Agni the Heavenly Steed, the Spiritus, the Winged Sun "Who 
from here below soared unto Heaven ... is the greediest of eaters” (RV 1.163.6-7). 
God’s “eating” is our Life, for thereby the Spiritus is clothed in flesh, becoming 
anna-maya. 

22 As also RV vm.21.5, “Seated like birds, O Indra, we raise our song to Thee”; 
cf. Paradiso xvm.76-77, “So within the lights the sacred creatures flying sang.” 

23 Cf. Paradiso x.74, “He who doth not so wing himself that he may fly up 
there,” for which numerous Sanskrit parallels could be adduced—e.g., PB xiv.1.13, 
‘Those who ascend to the top of the Great Tree, how do they fare thereafter? 
Those who have wings fly off, those without wings fall down,” and similarly, 
JUB m.13.9. 

24 Matt. 8:20, “the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not 
where to lay his head.” 


252 


DANTE’S PARADISO 


Up v.14), but also as the Swan ( harnsa ) who by the Breaths of Life 
protects his “lower seats” ( avaram hulayam , BU iv.3.12), whose own 
“perch is as it were a bird’s” ( sadanam yatha. veh, RV 111.54.5-6): “nest¬ 
less” and “nested” corresponding to the nature of the Deity who is “One 
as he is yonder” and also “manifoldly present in his children” (SB 
x 5.2.r6—17), whence he is spoken of as Nrsad “Seated in man,” Nrcaksus, 
“Having regard for man,” and Vaisvanara, “Common to all men.” 2 ' 1 

The “lower nests,” however, are not merely those of the individual 
substances in the sense explained above, but are at the same time every 
sacrificial altar, whether concrete or within you, 20 on which the sacred 
Fire is kindled, and it is in these senses that “the Deity, abandoning his 
golden throne, hastens to the Falcon’s seeming birthplace, the seat by 
speculation wrought” ( syeno na yonim sadanam dhiya \rtam hiranyayam 
dsadam deva esati, RV ix.71.6), where the Falcon, is as usual, the Fire; 
the birthplace, as usual, the Altar; the lap of Mother Earth, the Mother’s 
womb; and the aspect of Deity {deva) referred to as hastening is that of 
Soma, sap of the Tree of Life, the “Wine” of life, and willing {\riluh) 
Sacrifice. 27 We find accordingly an elaborate symbolism of the Altar, 
which is the “lower throne” of Deity, in this very likeness of a bird's 
nest, and even that the Altar is completed in such a manner as to be 
manifestly like a nest, as, for example, in AB 1.28, where the Priest, in¬ 
voking the sacred “Fire and the Angelic Host to be seated first on the 
birthplace rich in wool” (represented by the “strew,” these words being 
taken from RV vi.15-16), proceeds with the formula “Making an anointed 
nest for Savitr” (the Sun as “Quickener”) and, in fact, prepares “as it 
were a nest with the enclosing sticks of pitudaru-wood, bdellium, tufts of 
wool, and fragrant grasses,” and all of this is really a representation of 
the nest of the Phoenix, in which the life of the Eagle, the Fire, is per¬ 
petually renewed. 

It remains only to add what is already implied in the words “by specu¬ 
lation wrought” {dhiya krtam, cited above, dhi in Vedic Sanskrit being 


25 Cf. Coomaraswamy, “Vedic Exemplarism.” 

26 On the kindling of Agni "within you,” see SB vn.4.1.1 and x.5.3.3. 

1 Partaken of by way of transubstantiation: “Men fancy when the plant is 
pressed, they drink of very Soma, but of Him the Brahmans understand by Soma, 


nonesoever tastes who dwells on earth” (RV x.85.3-4). “The Nyagrodha is para- 
oolically King Soma; parabolically the temporal power obtains the semblance of 
“ e s Ptritual power, by means of the priest, the initiation, and the invocation as it 
vere (AB vn.31). The only approach to Him is by way of initiation and ardor 
( S B 111.6.2.10-u); cf. Gen. 3:22, “lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the 
Cree °f life, and eat, and live for ever.” 


253 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


DANTE’S PARAD 1 SO 


used synonymously with dhydna = contemplatio ), that the kindling of 
Agni in his lower nests, where until kindled He is merely latent—in 
other words, the bringing of God to birth who else remains unknown— 
while it is effected symbolically in the ritual of Sacrifice or Mass, is ef¬ 
fected by “him who understands it (ya evam vidvan),” the Comprehen- 
sor thereof ( evamvit ), the Gnostic ( jndnin ), “in the empty space of the 
heart ( hrdayd\ase ),” “in the bare room of the inner man ( antar-bhutasya 
\he) it is an interior darkness that is illuminated. “No man by works 
or sacrifices attains to Him who quickeneth for ever” (RV vm.70.3), 
but only those in whom a last death of the soul has been effected and 
who, when they stand before the gates of heaven and face the question, 
“Who art thou?” are qualified to answer not with any personal or family 
name, but in the words, “This who that I am is the Light, Thyself”— 
only these are welcomed with the benediction, “Who thou art, that am 

l, and Who I am, That art thou: proceed” (JUB 111.14), nothing then 
remaining of the individual, whether as to “name” or “likeness” ( nama - 
rupa), but only that Spiration ( atman ) that seemed indeed to have been 
determined, and participated, but is in fact impartible. 28 One thus freed, 
entering through the midst of the Sun (“I am the Way ... no man cometh 
to the Father, but by Me,” John 14:6; “Only by knowing Him does one 
pass over death, there is no other Way to go there,” VS xxxi.18), “the 
gate through which all things return perfectly free to their supreme felic¬ 
ity” (Eckhart, Evans ed., I, 400), becomes a “Mover-at-will" (kyim nea¬ 
rin') whose will, indeed, is no longer his own, but confused with God’s. 
“That is his proper form, who hath his will, 20 the Spirit is his will, he 
hath no will, nor any want” (BU iv.3.21); “he goes up and down these 
worlds, eating what he will, and assuming what likeness he will” (TU 

m. 10.5); just as in John 10:9, “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, 
he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture,” and more 
explicitly again in the Pistis Sophia. 

We have sketched above a summary outline of the implications of the 
symbol “nest” in the Vedic Gnostic tradition. It is true that Dante’s use 

28 “The fastidious soul can rest her understanding on nothing that has name. 
She escapes from every name into the nameless nothingness. . . . These are the 
blessed dead . . . buried and beatified in the Godhead. ... In this state we are as 
free as when we were not; free as the Godhead in its non-existence” (Eckhart, 
Evans ed., I, 373, 381-382). “I would go down unto Annihilation and Eternal 
Death, lest the Last Judgment come and find me Unannihilate, and I be seiz’d 
and giv’n into the hands of my own Selfhood” (Blake). 

23 Cf. Paradiso xxii.64-65, “Ivi e perfetta, matura ed intera ciascuna disianza.” 


of the word should have been understood either from other passages (e.g., 
Paradiso xxm.1-12, where Beatrice herself is compared to a bird that rises 
from its nest at dawn to greet the sun), or by comparison with Biblical 
texts such as Matt. 7:20 cited in a footnote above; but at the same time, 
and just as in connection with the Sun, it may be taken for granted that 
Dante, whose knowledge of Christian and Pagan symbolism is so ex¬ 
tensive and so accurate, 30 was more than well aware of all the technical 
meanings of the symbols he employs—“technical,” because such terms 
are neither employed by way of ornament, nor are they explicable at will, 
but belong to the vocabulary of a consistent parabolic language. 31 We 
think that it has been shown that the references of an exponent of ortho¬ 
dox Christian principles, writing at the end of and, as it were, resuming 
all the doctrine of the Middle Ages, can actually be clarified by a com¬ 
parison with those of scriptures that were current half the world away 
and three millenniums earlier in time; and that this can only be explained 
on the assumption that all these “alternative formulations of a common 
doctrine (dharma-paryaya)" are “dialects of the one and only language 
of the spirit,” branches of one and the same “universal and unanimous 
tradition,” sanatoria dharma, Philosophia Perennis, St. Augustine’s “Wis¬ 
dom uncrcate, the same now as it ever was, and the same to be for ever¬ 
more” ( Confessions ix.io). 

30 Cf., for example, the metaphysically technical description of the Three Worlds 
in Paradiso xxix.28-36, and the treatment of il punto in xm.n-13, xvu.17-18, 
and xxvni.16, 25-26, and 41-42, for all of which the Indian parallels could be ad¬ 
duced; “in punta dello stelo, a cui la prima rota va dintorno. ... Da quel punto 
depende il cielo, e tutta la natura” (xin.ii-12 and xxvin.41-42) corresponding, for 
example, to RV r.35.6, dnim na rathyam amrtd adhi tasthuh. 

31 Clement, Miscellanies vi.15, “Prophecy does not employ figurative forms in 
the expressions for the sake of beauty of diction”; Sum. Theol. i.i.ioc, “Whereas 
in every other science things are signified by words, this science has the property, 
that the things signified by the words have themselves a signification." Emile Male 
aptly referred to the language of Christian symbolism as a “calculus.” 


254 


255 


NIRUKTA = HERMENEIA 



Nirukta = Hermeneia 


Every student of Vedic literature will be familiar with what are called by 
modern scholars “folk etymologies.” I cite, for example, the Chandogya 
Upanisad (vm.3.3), “Verily, this Spirit is in the heart 1 (esa atmd hrdi). 
The hermeneia ( niru\tam ) thereof is this: ‘This is in the heart’ ( hrday- 
am), and that is why the ‘heart’ is called ‘ hrdayam .’ Whoever is a com- 
prehensor of this reaches Heaven every day.” Specimens, of course, abound 
in Yaska—for example, Nirukta V.T4, “ Pmkaram means ‘mid-world,’ be¬ 
cause it ‘fosters’ ( posati ) things that come to be. 2 Water is pus\aram too, 
because it is a ‘means of worship’ (pujakaram), and ‘to be worshipped’ 
(, pujayitavyam). Otherwise, as ‘lotus’ ( pus\aram ) the word is of the 
same origin, being a ‘means of adorning’ ( vapus\aram ); and it is a 
‘bloom’ ( pusyam) because it ‘blossoms’ ( puspatc ).” Explanations of this 
kind are commonly dismissed as “etymological triflings” (J. Eggeling), 
“purely artificial” (A. B. Keith), and “very fanciful” (B. C. Mazumdar), 
or as “puns.” On the other hand, one feels that they cannot be altogether 
ignored, for as the last-mentioned author says, “There are in many Upani- 
sads very fanciful explanations . . . disclosing bad grammar and worse 
idiom, and yet the grammarians who did not accept them as correct, did 
not say anything about them”; 3 that is, the early Sanskrit grammarians, 
whose “scientific" abilities have been universally recognized, did not em¬ 
body these “explanations” in their “grammar,” but at the same time never 
condemned them. 

Nirukta is not, in fact, a part of philology in the modern sense; a herme- 


[This essay appeared in the Visva-Bhdratt Quarterly, NS II (1936) and concur¬ 
rently in French in Etudes traditionelles, XLI (1936); the Addendum which con¬ 
cludes the essay was published in each journal the following year.— ed.] 


1 1 .e., “within you,” in the sense that “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” 

2 The space between Heaven and Earth, being and not-being, light and darkness, 
essence and nature, being precisely the locus, opportunity, and "promised land of 
all birth and becoming. 

3 B. C. Mazumdar, review of J. N. Rawson, The Katha Upanisad, in Indian Cul¬ 
ture, II (i 935 /i 93 6 ). 37 R 


neutic explanation may or may not coincide with the actual pedigree of a 
word in question. Nirukta — hermeneia is founded upon a theory of 
language of which philology and grammar are only departments, one 
may even say the most humble departments, nor do I say this without a 
real and genuine respect for those “omniscient impeccable leviathans of 
science that headlong sound the linguistic ocean to its most horrid depths, 
and (in the intervals of ramming each other) ply their flukes on such 
audacious small fry as even on the mere surface will venture within their 
danger,” 4 and whose advice in matters of verbal genealogy I am always 
ready to accept. Etymology, an excellent thing in its place, is nevertheless 
precisely one of those “modern sciences which really represent quite 
literally ‘residues’ of the old sciences, no longer understood.” 5 In India 
the traditional science of language is the special domain of the purva- 
mimdmsd, of which the characteristic is that “It lays stress on the proposi¬ 
tion that articulate sounds are eternal, 6 and on the consequent doctrine 
that the connection of a word with its sense is not due to convention, but 
is by nature inherent in the word itself.” When, however, A. A. Mac- 
donell adds to this excellent characterization that “Owing to its lack of 
philosophical interest, the system has not as yet much occupied the atten¬ 
tion of European scholars,” 7 he only means that the subject is not of 
interest to himself and his kind; it is implausible that he should have had 
in mind deliberately to exclude Plato from the category of “philosophers.” 
For not only does Plato employ the hermeneutic method in the Cratylus 
—for example, when he says “ ‘to have called’ (to xaXecra v) things useful 
is one and the same thing as to speak of ‘the beautiful’ (to koXov) ”— 
but throughout this dialogue he is dealing with the problem of the na¬ 
ture of the relation between sounds and meanings, inquiring whether 
this is an essential or an accidental one. The general conclusion is that 
the true name of anything is that which has a natural (Skr. sahaja) 
meaning—i.e., is really an “imitation” (/xt/xpats) of the thing itself in 

'Standish Hayes O’Grady, Silva Gadelica (London and Edinburgh, 1892), II, v. 
3 Rene Guenon, La Crise du monde moderne (Paris, 1927), p. 103. 

What is meant by the “eternity of the Veda” is sometimes misunderstood. 
Eternal" is “without duration," "not in time” {a\dld), therefore ever present. 
The eternity” of tradition has nothing to do with the “dating" of a given scrip- 
' ure > in a literary sense. As St. Thomas Aquinas expressed it, “Both the Divine 
ord and the writing of the Book of Life arc eternal. But the promulgation cannot 
e from eternity on the part of the creature that hears or reads” (Sum. Theol. 
n -'-9t.t ad 2). 

History of Sanscrit Literature (London, 1900), p. 400. 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


N1RUKTA = MERMEN El A 


terms of sound, just as in painting things are “imitated” in terms of color 
—but that because of the actual imperfection of vocal imitation, which 
may be thought of as a matter of inadequate recollection, the formation 
of words in use has been helped out by art and their meaning partly 
determined by convention. What is meant by natural meaning can be 
understood when we find that Socrates and Cratylus are represented as 
agreeing that “the letter rho (Skr. r, r) is expressive of rapidity, motion, 
and hardness.” Cratylus maintains that “he who knows the names knows 
also the things expressed by them,” and this is as much as to imply that 
“He who first gave names to things did so with sure knowledge of the 
nature of the things”; he maintains in so many words that this first giver 
of names (Skr. namadhdh) must have been “a power more than human” 
and that the names thus given in the beginning are necessarily their “true 
names.” The names themselves are dualistic, implying either motion or 
rest, and are thus descriptive of acts, rather than of the things that act; 
Socrates admits that the discovery of real existence, apart from denota¬ 
tions, may be “beyond you and me.” 

It is likewise the Indian doctrine (BD 1.27 ff., Niru\ta 1.1 and 12, etc.) 
that “Names are all derived from actions”; insofar as they denote a course 
of action, names are verbs, and insofar as someone or something is taken 
to be the doer of the action, they are nouns. It must not be overlooked 
that Skr. nama is not merely “name,” but “form,” “idea,” and “eternal 
reason.” 8 Sound and meaning ( sabddrtha ) are inseparably associated, so 
that we find this expression employed as an image of a perfect union, 
such as that of Siva-sakti, essence and nature, act and potentiality in 
divinis. Names are the cause of existence; one may say that in any com¬ 
posite essence ( sattva , ndmarupa), the “name” {nama) is the form of the 
“phenomenon” ( rupa ) in the same sense that one says that “the soul is 
the form of the body.” In the state of nonbeing ( asat ) or darkness {ta- 
mas), the names of individual principles are unuttercd or “hidden” 
{ndmani guhya, apicya, etc.; 11 V passim) ; 9 to be named is to proceed 
from death to life. The Eternal Avatar himself, proceeding as a child (k u ' 
mara) from the unfriendly Father, demands a name, because it is “by name 
that one strikes away evil” {papmanam apahanti, SB vi.1.3.9); all beings on 
their way dread most of all to be robbed of their names by the powers of 

8 See Coomaraswamy, “Vedic Exemplarism,” [in the present volume— ed.]. Also 
Rene Guenon, ‘‘Le Symbolisme du theatre,” he Voile d'lsis, XXXVII (1932), 69. 

9 “When names were not, nor any sign of existence endowed with name” (Rumi, 

Divan, Ode xvii). 


Death, who lies in wait to thieve {hrivir ndmani pravanc musayati, 
pV v.44-4)• “It is by his deathless name {amartyena namna) that Indra 
overliveth human generations” (RV vi.18.7). So long as an individual 
principle remains in act, it has a name; the world of “names” is the world 
of “life.” “When a man dies, what does not go out of him is ‘name,’ that 
is ‘without end,’ and since what is ‘without end’ is the Several Angels, 
thereby he wins the ‘world without end’ ” (BU m.2.12). 

It is by the enunciation of names that a “more than human power” 
not merely designates existing things correctly but endows them with their 
being, and the Ali-maker can do this because He is omniscient of the 
hidden or titanic names of things that are not yet in themselves; it is by 
the foreknown names of mediate causes that He does all that must be 
done, including the creation of all separated beings. For example, RV 
1.155.6, “He by the names of the Four [Seasons] has set in motion the 
rounded wheel [of the Year] that is furnished with ninety steeds”; x.54.4, 
“Thy titan names, all these, O Maghavan, thou surely knowest, whereby 
thou hast performed thy mighty deeds”; vm.41.5, “Varuna knoweth the hid¬ 
den names remote, many a locution maketh he to blossom {\dvyd puru 
. . . pusyati), even as the light of heaven {dyauh, here the Sun, ptisan, 
savilr, as in v.81.2) bringeth into blossom all kind {pusyati . . . rupam)." 
It is by the same token that all words of power are efficacious—for exam¬ 
ple, PB vi.9.5 and vi.10.3, “By the word ‘born’ ( jdtam ) he ‘brings to birth’ 
{j'tjanat) -In saying ‘lives’ he enlivens them that ‘live.’ ” 

It is thus by a divine providence that all things are brought forth in 
their variety: “Varuna knows all things speculatively” {vi'svam sa veda 
varuno yatha dhiya, RV x . ti . i ). “All-maker, supernal seer-at-one-glance 
{samdr/0, of whom they speak as ‘One beyond the Seven Prophets,’ who 
is the only one Denominator of the Angels (yo devandm namadhd e\a 
eva )> to him all other things turn for information (. samprasnam ),” RV 
x.82.2-3, 10 should be read in connection with 1.72.3, where the Angels, 
by their sacrificial service, “obtained their names of worship, contrived 


°It is quite right for as to think of “names as the consequences of things” 
(Aristotle, as quoted by Dante in the Vita nuova), because our knowledge of things 
ls not essential, but accidental; aspiring to essential knowledge, names are for us 
3 means t0 knowledge and not to be confused with knowledge itself. But let us 
! 'ot forget that from the point of view of the Creator, Plato’s “more than human 
H >V ' was 'h e First Denominator, names (ideas) preceded things, which 

e <new before they were. Already possessed of essential knowledge, for Him to 
,ame ' s die same as to create ; from the point of view of the First Mind, "things 
are the consequences of names.” 


258 


259 





MAJOR ESSAYS 


NIRUKTA = HERMENEIA 


their high-born bodies”; to be named—to get a name, in other words— 
is to be born, to be alive. This denominative creation is a dual act: on 
the part of the One Denominator, the utterance is as single as himself; 
on the part of the individual principles, this single meaning that is preg¬ 
nant with all meanings is verbally divided, “by their wordings they con¬ 
ceived him manifold who is but One” (RV x.114.5). And inasmuch as 
such a sacrificial partition is a contraction and identification into variety, 
it must be realized that to be named, while indispensable to wayfaring, 
is not the goal: “Speech {vac) is the rope, and names the knot whereby 
all things are bound” (AA 11.1.6). The end is formally the same as the 
beginning; it is as one “no longer fed by form or aspect ( ndmarupad - 
vimuktah) that the Comprehcnsor reaches the heavenly Person beyond 
the yon, knowing the Brahman becomes the Brahman” (Mund. Up. 
111.2.8-9). “As these flowing rivers tend towards the sea, their name and 
aspect are shattered, it is only spoken of as ‘sea’ ” (Prasna Up. vi.5). “The 
fastidious soul,” as Eckhart says, “can rest on nothing that has name”; 
“On merging into the Godhead all definition is lost,” and this is also 
why he says, “Lord, my welfare lies in thy never calling me to mind”; 
for all of these quotations innumerable parallels could be cited from 
other Christian as well as from Sufi and additional Indian sources. 

One thus begins to glimpse a theory of expression in which ideation, 
denomination, and individual existence arc inseparable aspects, conceptu¬ 
ally distinguishable when objectively considered, but coincident in the 
subject. What this amounts to is the conception of a single living lan¬ 
guage, not knowablc in its entirety by any individual principle but in 
itself the sum of all imaginable articulations, and in the same way cor¬ 
responding to all imaginable acts of being: the “Spoken Word” of God 
is precisely this “sum of all language” {vaeikam sarvanmayanr, Abhinaya 
Darpana 1). All existing languages are partially remembered and more 
or less fragmented echoes of this universal tongue, just as all modes of 
vision are more or less obscure refractions of the world-picture {jagac- 
citra; Svdtmanirupana 95) or eternal mirror {speculum aeternum-, Augus¬ 
tine, De civitatc Dei xn.29) which, if one knew and saw in their entirety 
and simultaneity, would be to be omniscient. The original and inexhaus¬ 
tible {a\sara) affirmation (om) is pregnant with all possible meaning; 
or, thought of not as sound but as “omniform light” ( jyotir-visvarupam , 
VS v.35), is the exemplary form of very different things, and either way 
is precisely “that one thing by which when it is known, all things are 


known” (Mund. Up. 1.3, BU 1.4.5). The paternal comprehension and the 
mother tongue which are, thus, in their identity the first principle of 
knowledge are evidently inaccessible to empirical observation; 11 as long 
as an individual consciousness can be distinguished as such, an omni¬ 
science is inconceivable, and one can only “turn to the One Denominator 
for instruction” (RV x.82.3)—namely, to Plato’s “more than human pow¬ 
er,” to recover lost potentialities by acts of recollection, raising our level 
of reference by all available dispositive means. The metaphysical doc¬ 
trine of universal language is, thus, by no means to be thought of as 
asserting that a universal language was ever actually spoken by any peo¬ 
ple under the sun; the metaphysical concept of a universal speech is, in 
fact, the conception of a single sound, not that of groups of sounds to be 
uttered in succession, which is what we mean when we speak of “a 
spoken language,” where in default of an a priori knowledge of the 
thought to be expressed, it may be “difficult to tell whether it is the 
thought which is defective or the language which has failed to express 
it” (Keith, A A, p. 54). 

The assumption more immediately underlying the traditional science of 
hermeneutics {nirukla) is that there remains in spoken languages a trace 
of universality, and particularly of natural mimesis (by which, of course, 
we do not mean a merely onomatopoetic likeness but one of true anal- 

11 And thus, as a modern scholar would say, "meaningless to us and should not 
be described as knowledge” (A. B. Keith’s edition of the Aitareya Aranyakfi, Ox¬ 
ford, 1909, p. 42), where, however, it should be borne in mind that the kind of 
knowledge intended corresponds to Skr. avidya, as being a relative knowledge or 
opinion, as distinguished from an ascertainment. [Augustine, Confessions xi.4, 
“Scientia nostra scientiae tua ecomparata ignorantia est . . . Ignorantia divisiva 
est erratium.”] It is not, as Macdonell pretends, because the theory of an adequate 
symbolism of sound is devoid of philosophical (or, rather, metaphysical) interest, 
but because the modern scholar is not interested in principles but only in “facts,” 
not in truth but only in statistical prediction, that “the [Purva Mimamsaj system 
has not as yet much occupied the attention of European scholars.” The same might 
be said with respect to any other traditional science. 

All tradition proposes means dispositive to absolute experience. Whoever does 
not care to employ these means is in no position to deny that the proposed pro¬ 
cedure can lead, as asserted, to a principle that is precisely aniru\tam, no thing 
and no where, at the same time that it is the source of all things everywhere. 
What is most repugnant to the nominalist is the fact that, granted a possibility 
of absolute experience, no rational demonstration could be offered in a classroom, 
no experimental control” is possible, very much as cogito ergo sum is to every 
individual an adequate proof of his own conscious existence, of which, however, 
no demonstrative proof could be offered to the solipsist because he cannot directly 
experience the consciousness of another who also claims to be a "person.” 


260 


261 





MAJOR ESSAYS 

ogy); that even in languages considerably modified l by art and by conven¬ 
tion, there still survives a considerable part of a naturally adequate sym¬ 
bolism. It is assumed, in other words, that certain assonances, which may 
or may not correspond to the actual pedigrees of words, are nevertheless 
indications of their affinities and meanings, just as we recognize family 
likeness, both of appearance and of character, apart from the line of 
direct inheritance. All of which is anything but a matter of “folk etymol¬ 
ogy”; it is not a matter of etymology at all in the narrowest sense of the 
word, but rather of significant assonance, 12 and in any case the “folk” 
tradition is a matter of the “folk” only in respect to its transmission, not 
its origin; “folklore” and Philosophia Perennis spring from a common 
source. 

To neglect the niru\ta is, indeed, to impose upon oneself a needless 
handicap in the exegesis of doctrinal content. Compare in this connec¬ 
tion the more intelligent procedure of “Omikron”: “A further decision 
led me constantly to consult such ancient lexika and fragments of lexika 
as were obtainable; for I believed that in these original dictionaries of the 
Hellenes, the ancient scholars would have given apposite meanings, as 
well as clues to symbolic and allegoric expression. I paid particular atten¬ 
tion to the strange Hermeneia of the old grammarians, supposing that 
they had good reasons for it, and even for giving, usually, more than one 
Hermeneia for the same word.” 13 

From an empirical point of view, it can hardly be claimed that the con¬ 
nection of sounds with meanings has been seriously investigated in mod¬ 
ern times; we have the word of Macdonell that “the system has not much 
occupied the attention of European scholars.” Even if such investigations 
had been made, with indefinite or negative results, it would still hold 
that hermeneia (nirukta) as actually employed by ancient authors pre¬ 
sents us with an invaluable aid to the understanding of what was actually 
intended by the verbal symbols that are thus elucidated. The words of 
Scripture are for the most part highly technical and pregnant with many 
meanings on various levels of reference, so that even the nominalist 
should feel himself indebted to the hermeneutist from a semantic point 
of view. 

12 “For example, we do not mean to imply that as between the words Agnus 
and Ignis (Latin equivalent of Agnt) there is anything more than one of those 
phonetic similarities to which we referred above, which very likely do not cor¬ 
respond to a line of linguistic descent, but are not therefore to be regarded as purely 
accidental” (Rene Guenon, L'Esoterisme de Dante , Paris, 1925, p. 92, n. 2). 

13 Omikron, Letters from Paulos (New York, 1920), Introduction. 

262 



NIRUKTA = HERMENEIA 

Nirukta = Hermeneia: addendum 

In the preceding article, I described the Omkara as the “sum of all 
language” (vaci\am sarvanmayam), and “that one thing by which when 
it is known, all things are known.” There is a remarkable text exactly 
to this effect in CU 11.23.3, “As all the leaves [of a book] are pinned 
together by a spike ( san\und ), so all speech ( sarva vac ) is pinned together 
by the Omkara; verily, the Omkara is all this, the Omkara verily [is] 
all this”; and for this, too, there is a striking parallel in Dante ( Paradiso 
xxxm.85-92): “Within its depths I saw ingathered, bound by love in one 
volume, the scattered leaves of all the universe . . . after such fashion 
that what I tell of is one simple flame. The universal form of this com¬ 
plex I think that I beheld.” The parallel is all the closer because in the 
first case the universal form is that of the eternal sound, in the other, 
that of the eternal light; for light and sound are coincident in divinis 
(cf. svar and svara), and just as Dante speaks of “these singing suns” 
{Paradiso x.76; cf. xvm.76, “So within the lights the flying sacred crea¬ 
tures sang”), so JUB m.33 has “The Sun is sound, therefore they say 
of this Sun ‘It is as sound that He proceeds’ (svara eti)," and in CU 
1.5.1, “The Sun is OM, for he is ever sounding forth ‘OM.’ ” 
Incidentally, the Chandogya passage cited above, “As all the leaves are 
pinned together by a spike (yatha sanhuna sarvani parnani samtrnnani),” 
affords very strong evidence for the contemporaneity of writing with the 
redaction of this Upanisad, for everyone who has seen a South Indian 
palm leaf manuscript of many leaves held together by a spike passed 
through one of the string-holes will recognize the aptness of the simile. 


263 



SOME PALI WORDS 



Some Pali Words 

“For an accurate understanding of the original meaning of 
most of the technical terms of Buddhism, a knowledge of 
their Sanskrit form is indispensable.” 

Max Muller, SBE, Vol. io, liv. 1 

In the following article certain Pali words are discussed, with particular 
reference to their treatment in the PTS Dictionary and to their trans¬ 
lation in the now completed Nikaya volumes of the PTS. References are 
to the corresponding editions, by volume and page. The discussions of 
Attha ( artha ), Rasa, Vyanjana, and Sahdjanetta amount to a first essay in 
the study of Buddhist rhetoric, and should be read together. 

[This paper was first published in the Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, iv (1939). 
Thanks arc due I. B. Horner, president of the Pali Text Society, for reviewing 
the text prior to this publication— ed.] 

1 To this I would add that Buddhist doctrine is very largely addressed directly 
to learned Brahman hearers, already familiar with almost all of the technical terms 
in their Sanskrit forms and with the Indian rather than the specifically Buddhist 
content of the words: it follows that the more we can approach the texts from the 
same point of view, the better we shall be able to grasp them. Buddhism presup¬ 
poses the Brahmanical position, and for the most part is only in conflict with actual 
or supposed perversions of this position. 

Insofar as Buddhism is an argument addressed to a learned audience, it is an 
argument that presupposes a knowledge of the Vedas and Upanisads; if we are 
not equipped with a similar knowledge, we can hardly expect to understand more 
of the Dhamma that is "deep, deep in meaning, transcendental and coupled 
with negation (te yc suttantd gambhira gambhirattha lo\uttara sunnatd-patisannuta , 
A 1.72, S 1.267, etc.)’’ than is directly addressed to the “untaught many-folk’ (as- 
suta puthujjana, “the man in the street”). 

In connection with the Buddhist commentaries, it may be remarked here that 
Buddhaghosa did not know Sanskrit or the history of Sanskrit terms, and in at 
least some cases interprets Pali words in a fashion dependent on special usages in 
his own period; his treatment of unhisa is a case in point. Hence, what a Brahman 
auditor face-to-face with the Buddha may be supposed to have understood by a 
given term may often represent its real value in “original Buddhism” better than 
the interpretation of a later Buddhist commentator. 


a\anittha. The Dictionary misses the full meaning of this word in 
its context, S v.237, J 111.487, etc. It is not “ 'not the smaller,’ i.e., the great¬ 
est, highest,” but “amongst whom there is none younger (or lesser) than 
another.” The Devas in question can only be the Maruts, of whom “None 
is come forth superior or inferior, or is waxen of medium glory” (te ajy- 
esthd a\anisthdsa udbhido 2 madhyamaso mahasa vi vavrdhuh, RV v.59.6), 
but “as brothers have waxen together,” RV v.60.5. As Vayu is metaphysi¬ 
cally the “Gale of the Spirit,” so are these Storm winds “Blasts of the 
Spirit.” It will not be overlooked that in MU 11.1 Brhadratha (of the Iksva- 
kuvamsa, also the Buddha’s), who is about to become an atmajnah (Pali 
attannu) and \rta\rtyah (Pali \atakjcco, katam \araniyam), is reputed a 
Marut, and ibid, vi.30, where he is actually \rta\rtyah (“all in act”) and 
enters through the Sundoor into the Brahmaloka, he is no longer referred 
to by a personal or family name, but only as “Marut.” The Buddhist phrase 
akanitthagdmin, which occurs with parinibbdyin in a list of designations of 
“Never-returners” in several contexts (D m.237, etc.), implies accordingly 
the attainment of the Brahmaloka and of companionship on equal terms 
with the highest Devas, the Blasts of the Spirit, amongst whom there is no 
distinction of superior or inferior or of early or late comers-in. Quite 
analogous to this is the position of the Comprehensor, of whom it is often 
said, e.g., S 1.12, that he does not think of himself as “equal, or better than, 
or inferior to others.” 

G. P. Malalasekera, in his Dictionary of Pali Proper Names (London, 
r 937 ), ches from DA 11.480, Buddhaghosa’s explanation of a\anitthd deva. 
In this citation, sabbeh’eva should be sabbe h’eva. Moreover, B. does not 
give two different explanations of the name, but only one: the a\anittha 
deities are so called because none amongst them is junior in attainment 
and virtues. 3 

a\ali\o. In S 1.11-13, a Yakkhl asks of the Buddha what is meant by the 
designation of the Dhamma as “intemporal” (a/{dli\o), i.e., “eternal.” The 
Buddha answers that it is only by the understanding of what-can-be-told 
that eternal life can be attained: “Those who heed only what can be told 

- Udbhidah in the sense of MU vi.30, sauram dvaram bhitva = urdhvam. . . yo 
bhitva suryamandalam, again with reference to a Marut. 

The implications of a\anittha are similar to those of the well-known Parable of 
tlie Vineyard, Matt. 20:1-16. Cf. “for all shall know Him, from the least even unto 
the greatest of than” (Jer. 31:34), and Augustine’s discussion in De spiritu et lit- 
tera 41. 


264 


265 





MAJOR ESSAYS 

(akkheyyam , i.e., the tale itself, dkjiydnam), who rest on what can be told, 
who do not fully comprehend what can be told, these come under the yoke 
of Death: but one who fully comprehends what can be told, makes no 
debate about the teller (ak\hdtdram na mannati, the reference of a\\hd- 
taro being to the Buddha himself, as in Sn 167), reflecting (iti) ‘It is not 
“his ’” (tarn hi tassa na hoti ), and so makes no mistake (yena nam vajja 
na tassa atthi ).” The YakkhI does not understand and asks the Buddha 
“to explain in detail the meaning of what has been said in brief” ( sam - 
kjiittena bhdsitassa vittharena attham jdneyyam). The Buddha then more 
explicitly states the doctrine of dfomcanha by means of which he has 
already answered at one and the same time the Yakkhl’s mistaken refer¬ 
ence to the Buddha as “surrounded by other mighty Dcvatas” and her 
actual question as to the meaning of “timeless” ( al(dli\o ): “He is con- 
trarious ( vivadetha , with reference to the preceding vajja tassa) who 
thinks in terms of ‘equal, better or worse,’ ” i.e., who thinks of the Bud¬ 
dha as “someone.” Still she does not understand (as before). More ex¬ 
plicitly the Buddha says, “He that has done with ‘number,’ him neither 
gods nor men, whether here below or there beyond, can reach” ( pahasi 
san\ham . . . tarn . . . ndjjhagdmum devd mantissa idha va huram va). 
At last she understands the Buddha’s meaning (attham)-. “timeless” can 
only apply to a doctrine that has not been taught by “some one”; the 
dhamma is akjdliko as being, not the “dated” “view” of So-and-so (whether 
man or personal deity is irrelevant), but Truth itself. Neither the Buddha 
nor the Dhamma is “in time,” but only their manifestations, which must 
not be taken absolutely, but must be penetrated and seen through. The 
designation of Dhamma as “timeless” is the Buddhist form of the well- 
known Indian doctrine of the “eternity of the Veda,” for which there are 
good Christian equivalents, e.g., St. Augustine, De lib. arb. 1.6, Lex, quae 
summa ratio nominatur, non potest cuipiam intelligent non incommu- 
tabilis aeternaque videri ; Sum. Theol. 1-11.91.1, divina ratio nihil concipit 
ex tempore, etc. “Dhamma” could hardly be rendered in Latin better than 
by Lex, quae summa ratio nominatur . . . aeterna . . . divina ratio. The 
modern scholar’s objection to the doctrine of the eternity of the Word, 
Law, or Dhamma is based on a misunderstanding of what is meant; as 
remarked by St. Thomas Aquinas, ibid., “the Divine Word and the writ¬ 
ing of the Book of Life (which corresponds to the vidya implied in 
“Jatavedas” and to “Providence”) are eternal. But the promulgation can¬ 
not be from eternity on the part of the creature that hears or reads.” The 
doctrine of the eternity of the summa ratio itself is the same as the 

266 


SOME PALI WORDS 

platonic doctrine of ideas; that of its temporal promulgation correspond¬ 
ing to the appearance of the shadows on the wall of the cave. In the 
Buddhist texts in the same way we find the Dhamma described in one 
breath as sanditthiltp, manifest, and al{dlii;p, not in time. For, to borrow 
the words of Augustine, “This wisdom is not made; but it is at this 
present, as it hath ever been, and so shall ever be” (Confessions ix.io). 
There are many other texts in which the Buddha identifies himself, the 
Dhamma, and Brahma; the Dhamma is accordingly temporal and in¬ 
temporal, just as the Brahman, single essence with two natures, is \dla 
and akdla (MU vi.15, etc.), “time and timeless,” and therewith also 
sa\ala and akala, “with and without parts.” Otherwise expressed, Brah¬ 
man is on the one hand the audible brahman = mantram, and on the 
other silent: sabda and asabda, “vocal and silent.” 

akiriyavada. Just as in Brahmanism (e.g., TB in. 12.9.7-8; JUB 1.5.1-2; 
CU vm.4.4; BU iv.4.23; KU n.14; Kau$. Up. 1.4; MU vi.18, 35; BG v.15, 
etc.) and in Christianity (1 John 3:9; 11 Cor. 3:17; Gal. v:i8; Sum. Theol. 
1-11.93.6 ad 1 and 11-11.180.2), ethical values are in the last analysis to be 
rejected and all responsibility ceases, so in Pali Buddhism (M 1.135, 160; 
M 11.36-39; Dh 39, 267, 412; Sn 715, etc.); it follows, indeed, as a matter 
of course that when the whole burden of l{amma (the operation of medi¬ 
ate causes, or “fate”) is laid down forever, the relative factors of this 
burden (what ought to have been done and was not done, and what 
ought not to have been done but was done) are likewise discarded; this 
abandonment of ethical values inevitably accompanying the abandonment 
of the psycho-physical “self” (Pali appatumo, papa atta, anatta), an aban¬ 
donment that is styled in Brahmanism “self-sacrifice” or “self-conquest” 
(atma-yajna, dtmaqaya), in Christianity “self-naughting” (Eckhart’s “the 
soul must put itself to death,” Christ’s “hating one’s own soul,” and St. 
Paul’s “dividing asunder of soul from spirit”), in Buddhism “self-con¬ 
quest” (atta-jaya), “self-dompting” (atta-damatha ), “self-allaying” (atta- 
samatha), “self-extinction” (atta-parinibbapana ), or more explicitly and 
technically, the attainment of the “station of not being anyone” (d\imcan- 
ndyatana). 

It will be seen that the ultimate negation of all responsibility is a purely 
metaphysical and contemplative position: it can have no applicable mean- 
in g for anyone who still is “someone,” still “active” or, in other words, 
still “alive.” To argue that “I,” So-and-so, am not a responsible agent 
would be a ridiculous confusion of thought: it is only the I that is not 

267 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


a So-and-so that is free of the burden of responsibility, only one born of 
God, and in the spirit, that cannot sin. To pretend that this can apply to 
“me” (So-and-so) is to interpret the doctrine of filiation and theosis in 
the Satanic sense of the paranoiac. There have nevertheless been some 
modern scholars who have pretended to see in the “That art thou” of 
the Upanisads just such a deification as this; and have been “shocked” 
accordingly: and some others, the Amaurians for example, who were 
charged with maintaining that “as every human act is the act of God, 
there is no distinction between good and evil, and hence Nature should 
not be refused anything.” 4 We are concerned here only with the latter 
sort of heretics, those whose heresy or “false view” ( miccha ditthi) is 
termed in Pali Buddhism aforiyavada , the proposition viz. that inasmuch 
as deeds are done without a doer, 8 it does not matter what “I” do, whether 
good or evil (D 1.53): as against this position, the Buddha proclaims him¬ 
self a foriyavadi, and an aforiyavadi inasmuch as he teaches both what 
ought-to-be-done and ought-not-to-be-done (Vin 1.233 If., and A 1.62); but 
a foriyavadi only in the sense of “one who teaches that there is an ought- 
to-be-done” in opposition to the a foriyavadi, whose teaching is that there 
is no “ought-to-be-done” (D 1.115); these distinctions depending on a 
word division aforiya-vddi (teacher of an ought-not-to-be-done) and a- 
foriya-vadi (not the teacher of an ought-to-be-done). 6 

In A 11.232, Gotama is accused of a-foriyavada, the accuser maintaining 
that he “teaches that there is no ought-to-be-done with respect to any acts” 
(sabbafommdnam aforiyam pannapeti), and it is of interest that in the 
course of the refutation the Buddha points out that afonya (the word 
might be rendered by “laissez-faire” in this context) amounts to an an- 

1 Maurice de Wulf, History of Mediaeval Philosophy , 3rd ed. (London, 1935), 
P- 235. 

5 See ahamfora. 

6 There are actually three different ways in which the aforiyavadi claims irre¬ 
sponsibility (cf. J v.228). In A 1.173, 'be translation of akinya by "inaction” is 
mistaken; for inaction we should require ctfomma corresponding to akarma in 
BG iv.16. As a false “view,” akiriya means “no ought to be done”: as a “right view,” 
that there is “an ought not to be done.” The three grounds on which an irrespon¬ 
sibility is based are (1) fatalism, actions being the effect of past acts over which 
we have no control, (2) actions are not our acts but those of the Lord ( issara ), 
and (3) actions are uncaused and unmotivated ( ahetu , appaeaya): as against all 
these the Buddha maintains that “this should be done, should not be done (idam 
va \araniyam idam va akaraniyam) ,” and it is in this sense also that he calls him¬ 
self both foriyavadi and akiriyavadi, as above. 


268 


SOME PALI WORDS 


nihilation of the world ( ucchedam . . . lo fossa), “of which the very sub¬ 
sistence consists in the verity, i.e., causal efficacy, of action” (fommasacca, 
to be understood as in A 11.197-98 with respect to any bodily, vocal, or 
mental activity, foya-, vaci- and mano-samarambha), an argument remi¬ 
niscent of BG m.8, sarira-ydtrapi ca te na prasidhyed aformanah and 
111.24, utsideyur ime lofo na foiryam forma ced ah am. 7 It is indeed for 
this very reason that the Buddha sets the Wheel in motion in response 
to the desire of all the Devas, voiced by Brahma, who exclaims that 
otherwise “the world is lost!” nassati.. . , vinassati (J 1.81, S 1.1361!., M 
1.168, etc.). It is expressly stated too that the Buddha “practices what he 
preaches” ( yathavadi tathafori, A 11.24, reminiscent of RV iv.33.6, satyam 
ucur nara eva hi cafouh , and ix.113.5, satya-vadam-t-satya-forman): it 
is as the Arhat, passim, that he has “done what was to be done” 8 ( fota - 
\icco, fotam foraniyam, corresponding to the Brahmanical \rta\rtyah)? 

We can see now easily, then, how it can be that while in Ud 70 the 
notion that “I am the doer” is scouted (see ahamfora), in Ud 45 the 
man “who even when he acts yet says ‘I am not the agent’” ( yo cdpi 
fotvd na foromiti caha) is likewise condemned. As in Christian doctrine, 
the moral virtues do not belong to the contemplative life essentially, but 
only disposidvely, while they do belong to the active life essentially. 

atta. (1) Attd can be equated with foya only in the reflexive sense. For 
example, in D 1.34, anno atta dibbo rupi manomayo corresponds to D 
1.77, anharn foyarrt . . . rupim manomayam (also in M 11.17). This does 
not imply that attd can be translated by “body,” meaning simply the 
flesh: on the contrary, “body” is used to mean the whole psycho-physical 
personality, just as in English we speak of “somebody,” or as in “gin a 
body meet a body,” and also make use of “soul” in the same way in such 

' The Buddha’s doctrine was evidently as much misunderstood or wrongly re¬ 
ported by some in his own day, as it has been misunderstood by some modern 
scholars (notably those who saw in nibbdna “annihilation”). In M 1.140, for ex- 
^ple, we find him accused of teaching the “cutting off, destruction and becoming 
naught of existent entities ( sato-satassa ucchedam vinasam vibhavam) .” He protests 
that the accusation is “naughtily, vainly, falsely made and contrary to what is fact 
(asatd tuccha musa abhutena)," for “this is just what I do not teach.” 

Not simply, of course, in the sense of “duty done,” but that of “having done 
w iat was to be done,” i.e., “having reduced all potentiality' to act” and being there¬ 
fore “all i n act .» 

Note the dramatic distinction of fotakrtyah, “doer of evil,” “worker of witch¬ 
craft,” in AV iv.17.4. 


269 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

expressions as “not a soul was to be seen.” Anno atta and anno \ayo are 
much rather what we mean by “another man,” a “new being,” than 
either “spirit” or “body” in the stricter sense of these words. Kaya is found 
again in the general sense of “person” ( quisque) in M 1.206, where three 
young men are leading the higher life in one company: one of them says 
“1 live in obedience to the will of these venerable (comrades), surrender¬ 
ing my private will (sa{am cittam); we, Sir, are many men (nana . . . 
kaya , several ‘bodies’), but most assuredly one will” {e\am cittam). In 
A 1.168 (cf. 11.68, D 111.61) we find both atta and (instead of \aya) sarira 
employed in the same sense of quis or quisque = \asctt: the objection is 
raised that this is the perfecting of only one person (e\am attdnam . . . 
parinibbdpeti) , that this is an acquisition of merit affecting only “some¬ 
body” (ekftsaririkarri puhhapatipadam patipanno hoti ); the Buddha shows 
that the monk’s abandonment of the world affects not only himself, but is 
“cvcrybody-ish” ( anekasaririka). 

The Dictionary notes the meaning quis or quisque only s.v. tuma (= at- 
ta = Skr. tman — atman). 

(2) One of the most remarkable examples of what C.A.F. Rhys 
Davids would call a “left in” in late Pali literature occurs in J vi.252, 
where k&y° te ratha-sannato . . . atta va sdrathi corresponds to KU 111.3, 
atmanam ruthinam viddhi, sariram ratham eva tu. The text is of utmost 
importance in connection with the “Chariot Parable” elsewhere, notably 
in S 1.135 and Mil xxvi ff. 10 In the latter passage, so well known, it is 
shown that just as there is no “chariot” apart from the sum of the com¬ 
ponent parts to which the name of “chariot” is conventionally given, so 
there is no “Nagasena” apart from the psycho-physical components of 
the variable phenomenon to which the name of “Nagasena” is conven¬ 
tionally given; the psycho-physical composite is anatta, here and through¬ 
out our texts; there is nothing but a phenomenon ( rupa ) to which a name 
( ndma ) can 'be given. 

Observe now, that just as the repeated analyses of the psycho-physical 
constitution of the so-called individual end invariably with the words 

10 We do not overlook that Milinda himself is referred to as the rider, but this 
is merely to introduce the subject of the parable. If Nagasena had gone on to apply 
the parable not only to himself but also to Milinda, it is the psycho-physical per¬ 
sonality by name “Milinda” that would have been analyzed, and Nagasena might 
well have said to him, na vo so att'a, “all that is not your essence,” still without 
touching upon the nature of an essence thus defined by elimination, that spiritual 
essence to which we here, in accordance with J vi.252, refer to as the rider or 
“charioteer.” 


SOME PALI WORDS 

na me so atta, “that is not my ‘self,’ or ‘spiritual essence,’ ” so Nagasena 
shows that in all that can be named, whether “chariot” or “Nagasena,” 
no self-subsistent being or persistent substance can be found. Nagasena 
no more denies that there may be a charioteer distinct from the chariot, 
or a principle distinct from all that can be called “Nagasena,” than the 
words na me so atta can be made to mean “there is no atta.” He leaves 
out the rider altogether, only because his immediate purpose, like the 
Buddha’s in so many texts, is to break down the belief in a “self” that is 
either physical or psychic. He has nothing to say, therefore, about a 
rider to whom no name can be given, that other “self” {atman) of KU 
11.18 that “hath never become anyone” {na babhuva /(asat), a self that 
can only be defined by the elimination of all that it is not, but which is 
assuredly the substance of all those Buddhist saints who, like the Buddha 
himself, had realized that all phenomena are anatta, and had attained to 
the “Station of Not-being-Anyone” {akincanhayatana). And we can well 
say with Ud 80 that “if there were not this Unborn, Unbecome, Non- 
effccted, Incomposite, there would be no way to escape from this world 
of birth, becoming, effcction, and composition.” 

If the Buddha himself is the “most luminous and foremost charioteer” 
{sdrathi, Sn 83), if Dhamma is the charioteer (S 1.33), Atta the charioteer 
(J vi.252), and the chariot conversely “enspirited” {attaniya," S v.6), 
all these are equivalent formulae: the Buddha is the Spirit, and it is only 
when He holds the reins, only when the Great Self {mahatta, A 1.249) 
is in control, that the contemplative therewith “drives off and away from 
this world” in what is called the Brahma-vehicle or Dhamma-vehicle 
(S v.6). 12 

attha {—artha). In A 1.151, the qualifications of the teacher and the 
hearer of Dhamma (the Doctrine as taught, desitam, akkhydtam, etc.) 
are that each separately and both together must be able to receive {pati- 

11 Certainly not here with any pejorative value! In the many contexts in which 
atta and attaniya, “self and self-ish” or "essence and essential” are denied (e.g., M 
J- 2 97 )> the reference is to the composite vehicle itself, the soul-and-body that are 
not my very-Self {na me so atta)" but the pseudo- or “petty self” (appdtumo, 
A '-249). All our texts maintain that there is no entity of the chariot itself, but 
only the name and the appearance thereof; none of them affirms that there is no 
nder. 

In S v.6. Woodward’s rendering of attaniyam bhutam as "built by self” betrays 
“>e meaning: attaniyam is “enspirited,” bhutam is geworden\ it is in a vehicle of 
which atta is in control that the contemplatives “drive away.” 

” Brahmayanam anuttaram niyyanti dhtra lokamha. 


270 


271 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

samvedetif 13 both the attha and the dhamma Woodward [translator of 
Angnttara Ni\aya in the PTS edition] renders “must be able to penetrate 
both the letter and the spirit thereof” and adds in a footnote that “ Attha 
is the primary, or surface meaning: dhamma the applied meaning.” 1 ^ 
He does not realize that his word “thereof” implies that there is a dham¬ 
ma of a dhamma. There can be no doubt that what is intended is “must 
be able to receive both the application and the substance” of the teaching. 

In the section immediately following, it is said that the same qualifica¬ 
tions are prerequisite if the discourse (/( atha ) is to be effective ( pavattani , 
rendered by Woodward “profitable” here and in the similar context 
A 1.125), i.e., are to move the hearer so that action results. 

Before going further, let us observe that Skr. artha is the purpose, rea¬ 
son, use, value, application, and function, as well as the meaning, of what¬ 
ever it may be that is referred to: 10 and that whereas in “primitive” 
thought function and meaning coincide, we who no longer think in terms 
of adequate symbols are unable to deal with function and meaning by a 
single act of the mind. This has a marked effect upon our theories of art, 

13 In pafisamvedeti, prati is secundum and sam corresponds to co (= cum) in 
cognosccrc : pratisamvid is cognoscerc secundum rem. An adaequatio rei ct intel¬ 
lects is implied. 

14 Cf. Sn, prose preceding verse 1124, where we find that to every question an 
answer can be given in terms of attha or of dhamma accordingly. Dh 362, 363, 
attham dhammam ca dipeti . . . tarn ahu bhi\khum. Cf. M 1.37, A v.329, etc., 
attha-veda and dhamma-veda, as knowledge of or devotion to both attha and 
dhamma, “the law and the prophets.” 

15 “Letter and spirit” is used in two senses, neither of which is that of “surface 
meaning and applied meaning.” The two senses are (1) the most familiar, and that 
was developed by Origen (De principles, Bk. 4, cc. 8-20), viz. that the literal 
meaning is no more than the symbol of the intended meaning, a figure of speech 
to be interpreted, as for example when it is said that of samudda the adhivacanam 
is nibbana-, and (2) that emphasized by St. Augusune in De spiritu ct littera, in 
which “letter” refers to the moral law; this is the “letter that kills” inasmuch as it 
is by this law that the offender is condemned; while, on the other hand, the “spirit” 
is the Holy Ghost at work within the soul, imparting the knowledge of God by 
which those who are dead unto sin but live in Christ arc liberated from the Law. 
Attha and dhamma could be rendered by “letter and spirit” in Augustine’s sense, 
attha being the “applied meaning” and dhamma the “ultimate meaning”: the dis¬ 
tinction is that of \arma\anda from jnana\anda, and it may be in this sense that 
the PTS Dictionary rightly distinguishes, s.v. Veda, attha from dhamma as the 
letter from the spirit of the Buddha’s teaching, though Woodward's note, which 
gives for dhamma the meaning that belongs to attha, shows that he is not using 
“letter and spirit” in their original, Pauline sense. 

16 For example, in S x.34 (also Vin xi.147) sampassam attham attano is rendered 
“seeing his own good,” but could also be translated “seeing the meaning of 'self' 
( atta ).” 


SOME PALI WORDS 

whether literary or plastic. It must be realized that from the Indian, as 
from the Scholastic point of view, it cannot be said that the meaning of a 
phrase has been conveyed otherwise than to the extent that the hearer acts 
upon what he is supposed to have understood. 17 In other words, the Dham¬ 
ma cannot be understood apart from its application. 

In A 11.7 we find accordingly that the man who has learnt but little 
understands either the application (attha) or the substance of the Law 
(dhamma), and so by his audition (sutena) is “unborn” ( anuppanno , an 
expression that vividly recalls JUB 111.14.8, “Verily is a man unborn insofar 
as he does not sacrifice”). Woodward’s version is “knows not the letter 
(attham), knows not the meaning (dhammam)," the very reverse of what 
is intended. In Ud 70, however, where we have “The blind, the un¬ 
seeing, know neither the meaning nor what is not the meaning ( attham, 
anattham, i.e., how to apply and how not to apply), nor the text itself 
nor what is not the text” (dhammam, adhammam, i.e., do not know 
when the doctrine has been correctly and when incorrectly stated), Wood¬ 
ward’s version “know not the profitable (attham) ... know not dhamma" 
is much nearer the mark. In Ud 6, “He is pure, he is a Brahman, in 
whom are Truth and Doctrine (saccam ca dhammo ca)," saccam (= sa- 
tyam) takes the place of attham, and amounts to vera sentenzia. 

The foregoing interpretations of attha and dhamma are confirmed by two 
Jataka texts. In J vi.389 we find the Bodhisattva instructing a king, Cowell 
and Rouse translating attham ca dhammam ca anusasati by “used to in¬ 
struct the king in things temporal and spiritual”; 18 the reference is unmis¬ 
takably to Arthasastra and Dharmasastra, a meaning quite in agreement 
with the relative values found for attha and dhamma above. Finally we 
have J vi.251-52, where the king requests the Bodhisattva to teach him att¬ 
ham ca dhammam ca, “policy and doctrine” (Cowell and Rouse misrender 
by “the sacred text and its meaning,” reversing the sense of the terms). The 
Bodhisattva accordingly teaches him how to act; he is to protect Brahma- 
pas and Samanas; to feed the hungry; he should not put to labor the aged 

17 It is for this reason that the traditional Indian scholar feels that the deliberately 
objective and detached methods of modern scholarship (adopted, as Jung has said, 

‘ partly because of the miserable vanite dcs savants which fears and rejects with 
horror any sign of living sympathy, and partly because an understanding that 
reaches the feelings might allow contact with the foreign spirit to become a serious 
experience”) can never lead to more than a superficial grasp of any doctrine. It is 
only when we ourselves participate in the quest and are hunters ourselves that we 
can understand the terms of venery, not as disinterested lookers-on. 

18 The same words occur in J vi.131, where they are rightly translated in the 
same way. 


272 


273 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

man, or ox, or horse, but give to each their due, since they served him 
when they were strong; in short, he is to avoid unrighteousness and fol¬ 
low righteousness. Then “the Great Person, having discoursed to him 
concerning liberality and morals ( dana and slid) . . . proceeded to in¬ 
struct him in the Law ( dhamma ) by means of the parable of the chariot 
that grants all wishes.” This parable of the chariot begins, “Thy body is 
called the chariot,” and concludes “The Spirit is the charioteer” ( \ayo te 
ratha-sahhdto . . . atta va sarathi, almost verbally identical with KU 111.3; 
see above, s.v. atta [2]). Wc have here an actual example of what was im¬ 
plied by attha and what by dhamma}* 

The foregoing analysis will be essential to the discussions of rasa and 
vyahjana below; see also sahajanetta. 

attham (= asta ). Pali attha is not only Skr. artha, meaning, purpose, etc. 
(see vyahjana ), but sometimes Skr. astam, “home.” In this sense the 
word occurs in Sn 1074-76: the Muni, gone out as a flame is blown out 
by the wind, and released from denomination and embodiment, “goes 
home ( attham paled ) 20 and is not reborn” (na upeti sanhham, see 
san\ha ); it is asked, In the case of one thus “gone home” ( attham gato), 
whether or not he “is” and whether he is forever well; the answer being 
that “for one ‘gone home’ there is no gauge, there is nothing by which 
he can be referred to, 21 when all qualities have been swept up, all word- 
ways 22 too are swept up.” The expression “gone home” derives from 

10 It need hardly be emphasized that in the present article wc are dealing entirely 
with attha as contrasted with dhamma (or vyahjana ), not with attha in the very 
frequent and simple sense of "meaning” for which the example of A v.194, etc., 
"Here in the world, it is by means of a parable that such men as are of ready wit 
understand the meaning of what has been said ( ttpamdyam idh'e\acce vihhu 
purisd bhasitassa attham ajananti)" will suffice. 

20 Max Muller's version in SHE is very defective and far too free. To have 
"gone home” in this anagogical sense is certainly to have "disappeared” from the 
field of objective perception, whether human or angelic, but wc are not therefore 
justified in translating attham gato by “disappeared": it is always important to re¬ 
tain the literal meaning on which all other meanings depend. Nor is Max Muller’s 
alternative, “Has he disappeared, or does he not exist?” the right one: the alterna¬ 
tives are posed with respect to one who has “gone home" ( attham-gato , so . . .), 
about which “gone home” no question arises, the only question being as to what 
this “gone home” implies. 

21 As stated more fully in D xi.68, a locus classicus. 

22 Vadapatha: he has therefore entered into the silence of the unspoken word, 
dharma defined as in Lalita Vistara, text p. 423, “apart from any voice or sound 
of wordway, though the efficient cause of the voices of all beings ( sarva-ruta-ghosa 
va\pathanitarn . . . sarvasatwa-ruta-racanam) .” “Nothing true can be said” of the 


SOME PALI WORDS 

Brahmanical sources, where the Gale of the Spirit, the “One Whole God- 
hood” is the “home” to which the Sun himself and all separated essences 
return; for references see “ Svayamatrnna: Janua Coeli,” note 28 [in Vol. 
1 of this edition— ed.]. 

anatam. The printed text of Ud 80 reads duddassam anattam ndma, na 
hi saccam sudassanam, but what is admittedly the best MS. (A), and 
also at least one commentary, read anatam for anattam, and though the 
commentator understands by anatam “unbent,” hence “nibbana" (cf. 
Kindred Sayings, I, 236, note 4) and Woodward’s rendering “infinite," 
it is almost certain that the meaning of the whole is, “It is hard to dis¬ 
cern what’s false, nor easy to discern what’s true,” and that anatam here 
represents anrtam, the regular antithesis of satyam in Sanskrit contexts. 
The reading anattam can be accounted for in two ways, either as an error 
on the part of the scribe, unfamiliar with the rare word anatam (not 
in PTS Dictionary, nor can I cite it elsewhere than as above) 23 or less 
probably by the fact that what is anattam is also anatam = anrtam, as 
could easily be shown in sense from Pali sources, e.g., A 1.149, where of 
man’s two selves, the “fair” ( {alydna) is true (saccam), the “foul” (papa) 
false (musd), M 1.135, where the psycho-physical ego is “unreal” (asat), 
and similarly Dh 368; or literally from Brahmanical sources, particularly 
VS 1.5 and SB 1.9.3.23, cf. AB vn.24, and SB m.9.4.2 (“The Devas are 
the truth and men untruth”). 

aharnkara. Ud 70, “Those who give ear to the notion ‘I am the doer’ 
(aham\ard), or are captivated by the notion ‘Another is the doer’ (pa- 
ram hard), do not understand this matter, they have not seen the point”: 
in A m.337, atta par a replaces ahaml/ara and means the notion that “a 
self, or oneself, is the doer”; in S 11.252 and parallel passages, it is a ques¬ 
tion of realizing that “there is no T that does, no ‘mine’ that is the doer, 
no latent ‘I am’ (ahamhara-mamamlidra-[asmi-\mdndnusayd na honti)," 


dharma\aya, but only of sambhogakaya or nirmanakaya. In the same way the 
dhamma is akalikp, “not cx tempore," but like the ahala Brahman of MU vi.15, 
“without parts,” and like the amiirta Brahman of BU u.3.1, “immortal.” 

23 The contrast of true and false in Pali is usually saccam musatn, as in A 11.25, 
an interesting context in which the relativity of “true and false,” in the factual 
sense, is emphasized; the Tathagata is not circumscribed by these systematic fences 
(samvutesu = samvrttesu) ; Buddhas are not interested in “facts.” In this connec¬ 
tion it may be observed that “fact” and “fiction” are both equally what we “make 
of" our “experience.” 


274 


275 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

whether subjective or objective. The sense makes it clear that ahaml{dra 
is really a “Karmadharaya” compound, and not literally the “ego-factor” 
or “I-maker,” but the notion that “I am the doer.” Nor can there be 
much doubt that the same applies in Brahmanical contexts where, just as 
in many other traditions, the notion that “I am the doer” ( kartaham iti, 
BG 111.27, where it is inasmuch as he so thinks that the self of the man 
is “deluded by aham\dra ”) is scouted, cf. BG v.8, JUB 1.5.2, etc. It may 
be observed that a verification of “not being the doer” can only be made 
by one who has attained the “station of not being anyone” ( ahimcanhaya- 
tanam). This “I am not the doer” is a metaphysical position, not a moral 
one, and must not be confused with the a\iriyavada heresy, that of the 
man who in Ud 45 “even whilst acting says that ‘It is not I that am 
agent’ (yo c'api {atva na kpromi’ti c’dha)” and as in D 1.53 that it is 
therefore a matter of indifference whether one does good or evil: so long 
as “I am who I am,” “this man,” I cannot lay down the burden of my 
responsibility so easily, but only at the end of the road, at world’s end, 
and as one “born of God,” and no longer “myself,” am I “not under 
the law” (Gal. 5:18). 

ahetuvada. A micchd ditthi, in A 11.31, S m.73, M 111.78, grouped with a\iri- 
yavada and natthikavada. Also in M 1.408; and synonymous with ahetuka- 
vada in S 111.210. The denial of causality, i.e., kamma as the operation of 
mediate causes, cf. A 1.173 ff., pubbe katahetu “by the effect of what was 
formerly done,” is a denial of the very core of Buddhist doctrine expressed 
in the so-called confession ye dhamma hetupabhavd ..., Vin 1.405, and in 
countless inscriptions; a refusal to see things yatha-bhutam , i.e., as effects 
only. The opposite ( hetuvdda in M 1.409 = kammavada in A 1.187), ’^ e 
Buddha is a “causalist” (^ammavadi) , that is to say a “determinist” or “fa¬ 
talist” (in the Christian sense, where “fate lies in the created causes them¬ 
selves” and “is the very disposition or series, i.e., order, of second causes,” 
Sum. Thcol. 1.116.2; cf. Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae v.6), as re¬ 
gards all things that are anattd, i.e., the psycho-physical self composite of the 
five khandhas. It is traditional doctrine that “nothing in the world happens 
by chance” (Augustine, De diversis quaestionibus Lxxxm.34, approved by 
St. Thomas, Sum. Theol. 1.116.1 ad 2); it is only the little-witted (alpa- 
buddhayah) who maintain that the world is not produced in any or¬ 
dered sequence ( a-paraspara-bhutam , opposite of yatha-bhutam ), but 
is as it is only as the result of an exercise of free will (\im anyat \dma- 
haitu\am), and this view is tantamount to a destruction of the world 


SOME PALI WORDS 

(kjayaya jagatah, BG xvi.9). It may be pointed out that it is only on 
the basis of a world order (*6071.0s, rta) that the notions of an omni¬ 
science and omniscient “Providence” ( prajhd as in Ait. Up. v.3, and pas¬ 
sim) are intelligible; if “nothing happens by chance” the possibility of a 
providence necessarily follows. In other words, it is only from the hetu¬ 
vdda, hjammavada point of view that we can understand AA 11.3.2, where 
the avijhana pasavah (= Buddhist puthujjana ) are said to “become such 
as they are, they verily are born in accordance with Providence” ( etavanti 
bhavanti , yatha prajnam hi bhavanti ); BU iv.4.2, where the savijhanam 
(sariram ) is “taken hold of by knowledge and works, and antecedent 
Providence” (tarn vidya-\armani samanvarabhete , purva-prajna ca) ; and 
BG xvm.14, where beyond the four mediate causes ihctu) of whatever it 
may be that a man undertakes there is reckoned as a fifth the “Divine” 
(daivyam, sc. prajnanam, and admirably rendered by Barnett as “Provi¬ 
dence”). Our principal object in this section has been to bring out the 
consistency and interdependence of the Buddhist doctrines of \amma 
on the one hand and sabbannd on the other. 

akotita. In S 11.281, dkotitdni paccdltptitam civardni, the most correct 
translation would be, I think, “garments of material calendered on both 
sides.” 

dsivisa. “Derivation uncertain” according to the PTS Dictionary. In any 
case, the occurrence of the word is an interesting survival, as is that of 
ahi, both words occurring together in the Mahdvagga, Vin 1.24-25, where 
the ahi-naga overcome by the Buddha in the Jatila fire-temple is described 
as nagardja iddhima dsiviso ghoraviso . . . mahjiham asahamano. The 
word occurs in AB vi.i, where the sarparsi and mantra\rt Arbuda is an 
asivisah, “basilisk”; and in Avestan as azhi-visha in Azhi-vishapa. In 
S iv.172, the dsivisa are the four great families of snakes, and represent 
the Four Great Elements. Visha is certainly “poison”; dsi is probably Skr. 
asi or dsis (perhaps from asi to “sharpen”), in the sense of “fang.” Asivisa 
would then mean “poison-fanged,” either as adjective qualifying ahi , 
or as noun = snake. 


itthatta. The expression naparam itthattaya , constantly concluding the 
series hhlna jati, vusitam brahmacariyam, katam \aranlyam descriptive 
°f the Arahat, is usually rendered either by “after this present world there 
is no beyond” or “there is no hereafter for him.” These versions do not 


276 


277 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

convey the meaning and, on the contrary, state what is precisely the 
natthikja heresy, which consists in the denial of a beyond (see natthika). 
The meaning is that “there is no more such and suchness for him hence¬ 
forth”: it is not that there is “no beyond,” but that it is improper ( a\al- 
lam) to make any affirmation or denial about the state of the Arahat here¬ 
after, it may not even be said that he does not see or know (D n.68) 24 ; 
his mode is modeless, we cannot say what he is because he is not any 
what. Far better is the rendering of ndparam itthattdya in M 1.184 by "there 
is no more of what I have been”; this, which is true of every death and 
rebirth, is preeminently true of the thoroughly dead, parinibbuto. 

Itthatta may be noted in A 11.82, with reference to change of occupa¬ 
tion: “Dying thence, he is born to this” (tato cuto itthattam dgacchati): 
in the same way D 111.146, with reference to the Buddha’s descent from 
the Tusita heaven, “dying thence he entered into this condition of things 
(tato cuto itthattam dgato) ”: itthatta as “thisness” being the finite aspect 
of tathatta “thatncss,” i.e., nibbana ; just as one “comes to this" state of 
affairs, so one “goes on one’s way to that" (tathattaya patipajjati, D 1.175 
and S 11.199). 

Itthatta is thus synonymous with bhavabhava (becoming in a given 
way, or not becoming in a given way), but not with bhavatn ca vibhavam 
ca (becoming and not becoming, i.e., existence and nonexistence). Thus 
in A ii.io, iti-bhavabhava . . . tanhd (thirst for becoming thus, or not 
becoming so) 25 is a hindrance, the variant ittha-bhdvahnathabhdvam = 
samsdra occurring in the verses: in Sn 752 it is precisely from this “being 
in this way or not being in some other way” that the nonreturner is un¬ 
loosed ( nissito . . . ittha-bhavahnathabhavam samsaram nativattati). 
Itthatta is then the condition characteristic of the world, of being in some 
given way and not being in some other way: one could not wish for a 
better definition of “things as they are in themselves.” 

utthana. Literally “uprising.” In M 1.354, where it is late at night and the 
Buddha lies down to sleep in the lion-posture, we have utthanasahham 

24 In A 1.148, the same craving is called “unseemly” ( na-patirupam , literally 
“informal,” i.e., ugly). 

25 For example, being warm, or not being cold. Abhava does not imply any 
privation of existence but, like sam\haya-vimutto, implies a not being in any de¬ 
termined manner. Vibhava (in Pali) is “privation of existence,” but in Sanskrit 
“omnipresence”; vibhu corresponding to vikrama, cf. also vibhuti as “power.” The 
two meanings are by no means so contrary as might appear; since only that which 
is not any thing amongst others can be omnipresent. 


SOME PALI WORDS 

manasi\aritvd, to be rendered by some such phrase as “intent upon the 
thought of rising (in the morning).” Where the same phrase occurs in 
Ud 84, the Buddha has lain down in the same posture on his death bed. 
In both cases he is fully conscious and aware. In both cases, insofar as 
he is “some one” by personal and family name, there is a death of one 
consciousness and the arising of another, in accordance with S 1.135 
(cited, s.v. natthika), yet there is this difference that in our second 
case, the “uprising” which the Buddha expects is not to be in the body; 
and this leads us to call attention to the parallel use of utthana in PB 
XXV.10.T9-21, where it means the cessation of a ritual operation and pri¬ 
marily that cessation which is in order when the sacrificers on their 
countercurrent (see samudda) journey have reached their goal. Simi¬ 
larly in SB iv.6.9.7, sattrotthana. Here, of course, utthana as a “standing 
up" contrasts with sattra as sacrificial “session.” Now life itself is tradi¬ 
tionally a sacrificial session (CU 111.17). It is from this session that the 
Buddha looks forward to a “rising”; he is not expecting to “get up 
again” in the temporal and common sense of the words, but to leave the 
bodily operation forever. He will, in fact, enjoy the “final reward” ( uttha - 
na-phalam) of the ugghatitahhu-, utthana in this context (A xi.135) 
corresponding very closely to the utthana of PB cited above. 


udda. The PTS Dictionary expresses doubt whether udda may not be 
“beaver” rather than “otter.” “Otter” is presumably the etymological 
equivalent. That udda is “otter” is placed beyond doubt by the Dabbha - 
puppha ]dta\a, where udda catch and eat fish; and by the Bharhut relief 
(Alexander Cunningham, The Stupa of Bharhut, London, 1879, pi. 46, 
fig. 2), inscribed Uda Jataka, in which two animals, more like otters than 
beavers, are represented. Beavers are strict vegetarians and neither catch 
nor eat fish. 

Uddara\a in J v.416 is also “otter.” 

uyyoga. Dh 235-237 is addressed to the man at death’s door, for whom 
the messengers of Yama have come, and who is now come near to Yama. 
The words “Thou standest at the door of disjunction (uyyoga-mukhe), 
nor hast thou any provisions-for-the-way ( patheyyam , ‘fare’)” are surely 
reminiscent of KU 11.9, where Naciketas stands at Death’s (Mrtyu, Yama) 
door unfed. Uyyoga (udyoga ) is primarily and literally any severance of 
connections such as takes place at a departure, and so implies departure: 
thus in DhA xi.252, uyyojesi is simply “departed” (similarly udyuj in SB 


278 


279 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


SOME PALI WORDS 


iv.1.5.7, and the “Udyoga” Parvan of Mbh); although more specifically, 
when it is a question of death, udyoga is the opposite of that samyoga 
(BG xiu.26) by which the Knower of the Field and the Field itself are 
connected during life. Udyuga in AV v.22.11 may be simply “mortal sick¬ 
ness” in the same sense of “departure”; 26 udyuje in AV vi.70.2, obscure to 
Whitney, is simply “walks off with,” the sense in full being “as the ele¬ 
phant walks away with its mate, keeping close step ( padena padam 
udyuje)," or quite literally, “separating (his) foot with her ( hastinyah) 
foot,” i.e., striding side by side: udyuj with padam as object corresponding 
to chid in padacchida. 

\alydna. The Dictionary fails to note the very important context, A 1.149, 
in which the “Lovely Self {kalydnam attdnam )” is distinguished from the 
“foul self ( pdpam attdnam)"; a distinction parallel to that of A 1.249 be¬ 
tween the “Great Self ( mahatta )” and the “little self ( appatumo ).” 

In “Friendship with the Lovely ( kalyana-mittata )” and “Lovely Friend 
{{alyana mitto ),” I am tempted to see not merely a reference to environ¬ 
ment and human relations, but at least an ultimate reference to the “Love¬ 
ly Self” of A 1.149, with which “Self” one can also be “unfriendly” (S 
1.57, amitten-eva-attana ; cf. BG vi.5-6, bandhur dtmaiva ripur atmanah). 
Of what other “friendship” could it have been said that “friendship, com¬ 
panionship, intimacy with the lovely” is not the half, but the whole of 
Brahmacariya (S v.2), or that such friendship is “a single condition 
( ekadhammam )” whereby the Aryan Eightfold Path can arise, or if 
arisen can 'be perfected (S v.37); or what other “lovely friend” could have 
been described as the chief external factor in the development of the seven 
“limbs of wisdom” (S v.101-102) ? 

It is certainly also the \alydnattd, mahatta —not the pdpatta , appatumo — 
that is meant by atta in S 1.75 (= Ud 47) which, following BU 11.4, 
iv.5, and iv.3.21 ( atmakama), praises the attahdmo, a term that can be 
rendered by “self-lover” only if it be understood that all that “is not myself 
( na me so atta)" has been excluded. It is in this sense also that “a man, 
out of charity, ought to love himself more than he loves any other per¬ 
son . . . more than his neighbor” {Sum. Theol. 11-11.26.4); and similarly 
Hermes, Lib. iv.6b, “love thyself, if thou wouldst have wisdom”; cf. 
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics ix.8, on the two meanings of “self-love.” 
As Scott remarks (Hermes, 11.145), “The man whom the Hermetist de- 

20 We speak of a dying man as “nearly gone" or in slang as a “goner.” 


scribes as ‘loving himself’ corresponds to Aristotle’s o-7rovStuos, who . . . 
shows himself to be <£t\avros in the sense that he seeks to ko.\ov (= ka¬ 
lydnam) for himself . .. (and) develops that which is best and highest in 
himself by religious meditation” (i.e., jhdna). 


kdmakdra. “To do what one will does not pertain to the common herd 
{na \dma\dro hi puthujjananam, Sn 351).” This denial of free will to 
the natural man is paralleled in Vin 1.13, and S 111.66-67, where the prop¬ 
osition, that body, feeling, willing, etc. are anattd, not I, nor mine, nor 
myself {na me so atta), is proved by the consideration that were they 
myself or mine I should be able to say, “Let my body (or feeling, willing, 
etc.) be thus, or not thus,” and it would be so, since nothing can be 
called I or mine absolutely unless I have full power over it. Sn 351 im¬ 
plies, of course, that a Tathagata is \dmakdro, can do what he will; and 
that this is so is elsewhere made explicit in the lists of iddhis, beginning 
with the formula aham bhi\\have yavadeva d\an\hdmi, “I, almsmen, 
whatever I will . . . ,” S 11.212, etc. The word does not occur in Brah- 
manical texts before the Epics, but is the same in effect as \dmdcdrin, 
“mover-at-will,” recognizable in RV ix.113.9 anukamam caranam, and 
thereafter throughout the literature, e.g., JUB 111.28.3, CU vm.5.4, TU 111.5. 

kuta (as a weapon). Kuta in Mil 38 is not so much the ridge-pole of 
a house, but rather synonymous with its roof-plate {\anni\d) to which 
all the rafters converge. This roof-plate, as we have often shown, rep¬ 
resents in the cosmic architectural symbolism for which we have so many 
data in Indian literature, the Sun; and in microcosmic symbolism the 
brahma-randhra, or scapular foramen, whence the spirit departs when the 
dying man “gives up the ghost.” 27 Kuta is then, like !{anni\d, a likeness 

27 For further references and detailed analysis see Coomaraswamy, “The Sym¬ 
bolism of the Dome” and “ Svayamatrnna : Janua Coeli” [both in Volume 1 of 
this edition— ed.]. In connection with “The Symbolism of the Dome,” in which I 
identified the Rbhus with the three dimensions of space, I should like to add that 
this interpretation is virtually proved by RV iv.33.5 where, of the three brothers, 
the eldest proposes to make of Tvastr’s vessel two, the second three, and the 
youngest four (one dimension makes of a single point two points separated by a 
line, a second creates a plane or field of rmngulation, a third creates a real space 
that can be thought of as four< ornered). I ought not, however, to have said that 
Tvastr disliked what had been done: on the contrary, he approves {panayat, 
Sayana astaut, angtca\dra) and likes {avenat, Sayana akamayat, angtca\ira) the four¬ 
fold arrangement. If the Rbhus are also the best friends of the solar Indra, it is 
likewise because in the beginning he is desirous of a space within which he and his 
followers may fulfill their purposes. 


280 


281 






MAJOR ESSAYS 

of the Sun, and it may be assumed that like the \anni\a, the \uta may 
be a perforated form. We understand accordingly that when the Yakkha 
of J 1.146 “holds a metal kuta, a mighty sun, of the size of a roof-plate” 
( \anni\a-mattam mahantam adittam aya\utam gahetvd), he is wielding 
what may be a discus, but is more probably a mace in the familiar shape 
of a discoid head and provided with a handle passing through its central 
opening, just as the Axis Mundi passes through the Sundoor, and as the 
central axis of a house or smoke from the central hearth passes through 
the eye of its dome, or luffer. The same is to be understood in JB 1.49.9, 
where a Season, an agent of the Sun, is represented as descending on a 
ray of light, “armed with a mace (, \iita-hastafi )”; and in SB 111.8.1.15, 
where “they do not strike the victim with a mace ( na \utena pragh- 
nanti ).”" 8 On the other hand, in JB 1.49.2 where “one should strike the 
victim on the kuta ( \ute hanydt),” it is the top of the head that is referred 
to, in accordance with the microcosmic analogy mentioned above. 

gad ha (for gadha}). In S v.41 the factors of the Eightfold Path are 
said to “plunge into the Deathless ( amato-gadha ), have their beyond 
in the Deathless ( amata-parayana ), to have their last-end in the Deathless 

2fi Eggcling mistranslates as though the reading had been \utc. Sayana’s com¬ 
ment, "seizing it by the horn" does not support Eggeling's, nor docs it conflict 
with our own interpretation: one holds the victim by the horn in order to strike 
it with the mace. 

In Oertel’s discussion of \uta (JAOS, XIX, 1898, 114) he renders by "hammer,” 
quite satisfactorily in the SB context and JB 1.49.9, and only finds \ute in JB 
1.49.2 difficult because he forgets that \iita is the head or top of anything. Kata, 
from kut, to be bent or curved, is peak or top because the top of anything such 
as a mountain, house, or skull is either an angle or a dome, just as \uti or \\uti 
as “cottage" is evidently so called because of its pointed or bent roof ( kutan\aj. 
as the peak of the roof, \uta coincides with \annika\ and becomes a mace or 
hammer by analogy because the top of the roof, the aforesaid roof-plate, is actually 
a perforated disc through which the axis of the house passes (as the Axis Mundi 
passes through the Sun), the handle of the hammer corresponding to this axis. 
It follows, in the last analysis, that the mace or hammer as a weapon “derives,” 
like other weapons, from the primordial vajra. The mace or hammer is appropri¬ 
ately held by the “Season” of JB 1.49.9 because the Seasons are the “doorkeepers” of 
the Sun, JB 1.18.2. It is in the same way that Indra’s vajra becomes a hammer in 
the hands of Thor. 

In connection with the equation kuta = kannika, it may be remarked that the 
meanings of kannika as “earring” and “pericarp of a lotus” are secondary, the 
primary sense, depending on the etymological connection of karna with srnga and 
asri (and Ger. Ecke), being that of “projection” or "corner” (as in J vi.330). 
Both kuta and kannika are, then, as “point” of the roof, equivalents of angulus and 
yfflwo, “cornerstone” as interpreted in my “Eckstein” in Speculum, XIV (1939). 


SOME PALI WORDS 

(amata-pariyosana) .” The Dictionary does not have gadha (from Skr. gah, 
to dive or plunge into), and treats amatogadha here and elsewhere as 
ainat'ogadha, i.e., -avagadha. The metaphor is closely related to that of 
rivers reaching the Sea — Nibbana (see samudda): and corresponds to 
Eckhart’s “Plunge in: this is the drowning” (“in the bottomless sea of 
the Godhead"). The distinction of a drowning in the Upper Waters from 
a drowning in the Nether Waters is, of course, well known; the latter 
corresponds to the shipwreck en route in S iv.179-80. 

gava\kha. Not in PTS Dictionary. In Eastern Art , in (1931), 195, I sup¬ 
posed that no reference for a Pali gavakkjia, corresponding to Skr. gavaksa 
(e.g., at Mhv n.36) and Prakrit gavekjtha , “bull’s-eye window,” could be 
cited. The word occurs, however, in Mhv ix.15, 17. 

cetiya. The PTS Dictionary omits to mention that cetiya is by no means 
necessarily a thupa, but in fact more often a sacred tree. The definition 
of the three classes of cetiyas in the Kalingabodhi Jataka (J iv.228) should 
have been cited. Cf. Coomaraswamy, Elements of Buddhist Iconography, 
1935, and “The Nature of Buddhist Art” [in Vol. x of this edition— ed.] ; 
B. C. Law, “Cetiya in the Buddhist Literature” in Studia Indo-lranica 
(1931), pp. 42-48; and V.R.R. Dikshita, “The Origin and Early History 
of Caityas” in Indian Historical Quarterly, XIV (1938), 440-51. The 
suggestion that root cit, to consider, as well as root ci, to build up, enters 
into the meaning of the word caitya, cetiya, has been made independently 
by Dikshita and myself, on the basis of such texts as RV vi.1.5, where 
Agni is cetyah (from cit), and SB vi.2.3.9, where the courses of the Fire- 
Altar are “citayah" (from ci) because they were foreknown in accordance 
with the injunction “cetaya-dhi/am” (from cit) , and the fact that it was 
cetayamana (from cit) that the builders foreknew the courses, and be¬ 
cause the cetiya is not always in fact a thing “built up,” but is always a 
support of contemplation ( caitya, as if from cit). 

jhana, samadhi. Jhdna is always “contemplation,” jhayin (like dhira) 
always “contemplative.” C.A.F. Rhys Davids’ and F. L. Woodward’s usual 
rendering by “musing” or “quiet musing” enormously weakens the proper 
values of these terms. 29 Even less appropriate (and it may be added, rather 

29 It is regrettable that C.A.F. Rhys Davids has not consistently maintained the 
position so well expressed in Kindred Sayings, 1.68, n. 2, where she explains 
bhavana as “constructive work (in contemplation, of course) . . . contemplation 


282 


283 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

“early Victorian”) is Lord Chalmers’ rendering of jhayino by “those who 
woo Reverie” and of jhdyi by “Reverie” (Sn 719, 638). Contemplation, a 
word of precise meaning in the corresponding European contexts, is any¬ 
thing but “day-dreaming.” Jhdna tends towards and reaches its end in 
samddhi . 33 

Samddhi is etymologically and quite literally “synthesis,” and is gen¬ 
erally best translated thus in both Buddist and Sanskrit contexts: dharana , 
dhyana, and samddhi corresponding to the considcratio, contemplatio, and 
excess us or raptus of Richard of St. Victor and other Christian con- 
templatives; excessus and raptus imply in the one case a “going out of 
oneself” and a 'being “taken out of oneself,” and in either case a conse¬ 
quent “being in the spirit” and thus one's real “Self,” but of these two 
terms the latter is unsuited to the Indian contexts, yoga being an “active” 
rather than a “passive” or “mystic” discipline. 

In samddhi there is no longer any object of contemplation; in avita\\a 
samddhi one is what one knows; one knows indeed, but it is not a second 
thing, other than oneself, that one knows; there is adaequatio rei el in¬ 
tellects , as in divinis ? 1 The synthetic values implied in the common 
expression ajjhatam (adhydtmam) susamahito, “completely Self-cen¬ 
tred, 3 - are clearly brought out in A n.29 (and corresponding A A m.2.1), 
where all the powers of the soul (the \usald dhamma) are referred to as 
converging to one point, in which they are unified, just as the rafters of 
a dome converge towards and are at-oned in the roof-plate. It is upon 
jhdna and samddhi that the possession of iddhis, which are strictly speak- 
ing ‘powers” of the Spirit and not of the individual self, altogether de¬ 
pends. 

means both elimination . . . and . . . creation.” I am appalled by Rhys Davids’ 
Dhyana was not meditation; it was the making attention a tabula rasa for psychic 
communication. It was the later monk who converted this into mental hypnosis,” 
etc. (New Indian Antiquary , II, 1939, 46). 

30 In S 1.48 a Deva suggests that “He is wake who ‘awakens’ contemplation 
(yo jhatiam abuddhi buddho)"; the Buddha assents, with the reservation “Yes, if 
they be perfectly synthesized, or unified ( sammd te susamahita) .” 

31 Cf. A v.7, where in a vitalk a samddhi the Comprehensor is not aware of anything, 
and yet not without awareness ( asanni ). This is the position so fully stated in BU 
iv.3; although, curiously enough, D m.127 pours contempt on the saying passant 
na passati, the very words of BU iv.3.23, na pa'syati pasyan. D 111.127 is a bad ex¬ 
ample of the tendency of the Pali texts to pervert the meanings of Sanskrit logoi 
in order to gain the victory over a straw man. 

" 2 In the sense that “God is in all things self-intent,” “sees only himself,” and 
that the divine manner of knowing is “not by means of any object external to the 
knower.” 

284 


SOME PALI WORDS 

Tathdgata. In support of the view that the reference of this word is to 
the Buddha’s advent (cf. my note in BSOS IX) may be cited A 11.23 
where the Buddha is “Tathagata” by virtue of his omniscience, infallibil¬ 
ity, and because “as he teaches, so he does” ( yatha-vadi . . . tatha-kdrl, as 
also in Sn 357): in Sn 430 and Itiv, p. 122, the Buddha is tatha-vadi. 
Tathd-kdn and tatha-vadi are parallel to tathdgata ; tathdgata, then, from 
this point of view, would be “He who came thus saying and thus doing.” 
Sn 957 has buddham . . . tadim . . . agatam, “Buddha come hither in 
such a fashion.” S iv.195, yathagatamaggo = Ariyan Eightfold Path, is 
suggestive. DhA 111.226, tusita . . . dgato , is another sense in which he is 
“thus-come.” Lalita vistara, ch. 26 (Lefmann, p. 423), has dharmacakram 
pravartitam, yasya pravartanat, tathdgata ity ucyate, “It is because of his 
turning of the Wheel of the Law (or Principial Wheel) that he is called 
‘Tathagata’”; and this is confirmatory of the tatha-vadi tatha-l{dri ex¬ 
planation, since it is precisely the Dhamma that he teaches and the Dham¬ 
ma that he “does.” The text is no doubt an echo of D m.135 (= A 11.24), 
where all that the Buddha has said, from the time of his Awakening to 
that of his Decease, “all that is just so and not otherwise, and therefore 
is he called Tathagata. For, O Cunda, what the Tathagata says, he does, 
and what he does is what he says (. sabbam tam tath'eva hoti, no annatha. 
Tasma tathagato'ti vuccati. Yathavadi, Cunda, tathd\ari, yathd\ari tatha- 
vadi ).” 33 So much for tat ha. Agata occurs so often in connection with 
the Buddha’s coming, as to make the word division tatha-gata very im¬ 
plausible; that agata is likewise often found in connection with Agni 
affords additional evidence ( agamana is precisely “advent”). The Tathd¬ 
gata is the “Thus-come” with reference to any or all of the “ways” of his 
coming, but especially with reference to his advent as one who “practiced 
what he preached.” Cf. sagatam ( su-agatam ), “Welcome,” in sdgatam 
bhante bhagavato, D 1.179 = M 1.481; not to be confused with sugata, 
well-faring” or “well-fared,” a common epithet of the Buddha. 


tejanam. I have long had in mind to compile a vocabulary of the San¬ 
skrit and Pali terminology of archery. The two most difficult words are 
\ulmala and tejana. Pali contexts make the meaning of the latter word 


1 _ concept is Veche, cf. RV iv.33.6, where (with reference to the Rbhus) 
satyam itcur nara eva hi ca\ruh. The perfect correspondence of thought, word, and 
act !S the Tathagata’s integrity. 

® u ^dhist “Go thou and do likewise” may be cited from J n.130, “Those 
' ° 5 *° wlla t die Buddha has enjoined, follow the path of fortune (ye ca \ahanti 
uddhena desitam, sotthim param gamissanti = nibbanam gacchanti)." 


285 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

sufficiently clear. The PTS Dictionary emphasizes the sense of tij “to be 
sharp” and makes tejanam the point or shaft of an arrow or the arrow 
itself: we shall see, however, that it is always a “heating” that is directly 
referred to and a “straightening” that is implied. We first consider the 
Sanskrit contexts. Tejanam is a factor in the make-up of an arrow, but 
not any concrete part of the arrow. In RV 1x.nx.22 the fletcher (here 
simply \armara , “wright”) plies his trade equipped with “dry reeds, 
feathers of birds, stones, 34 and fire” dyubhih, i.e., literally, “with flames,” 
and as Sayana comments tejandrthabhih, “for the purpose of heating” 
(hence as in RV 1.53.4 etc -> anc ^ in Grassmann’s sense 15 for div). These 
four requisites correspond to the four factors of an arrow in AB 1.25, 
where Soma is the shaft (salya), Varuna the feathers, Agni the point 
(ani\a), and Visnu the tejanam (as he is also in TS vi.2.3.1). 35 In AB 
111.26, where the arrow is resolved into its equivalents, the tejanam 
becomes the blindworm ( andhahi ). AV vi.57.1 is a protection from the 
arrow “of a single firing and a hundred shafts (e\atejandm satasalydm)," 
by which we understand a flight of however many arrows proceeding 
from any one source (as many rays proceed from one sun), and more 
especially a protection from sunstroke. In AV vi.49.1, where “the ape de¬ 
vours the tejanam ” (whatever may be meant), there is not necessarily 
any reference to an arrow. 30 In AV v.18.8, the teeth are metaphorically 
arrows and are tapasabhidigdhah, literally “well smeared by heating,” and 
ibid. 15, isur iva digdha .. .sd brdhmanasyesur ghord, “and like the arrow 
smeared, so is that arrow of the Brahman terrible.” It has generally been 
presumed that digdha in this and similar contexts (BD v.133, explaining 
RV vi.75.15 ald\ta ... isvai; ^B xiv.9.4.8; R 11.30.23, etc.) means “smeared 
with poison,” and this is no doubt correct in some cases; in M 1.429, 
sallena . - . savisena galhapalepanena is certainly “with an arrow heavily 

34 Taken together, reference to stone arrowheads here, and to arrowheads of 
bronze in RV vi.75.15, implies a “chalcolithic” culture. 

35 In SB in.4.4.14-15, where it is a question of the making of the vajra (inci¬ 
dentally, the archetypal weapon, from which the sword, hammer or mace, and 
arrow arc all “derived”), Visnu is (1) liulmala, and (2) that which lies “between” 
Agni and Soma as between day and night. Without discussing pulmala at length, 

I will only say that the equation \ulmala — sandhi implied here agrees with the 
meaning of “fastening” (of point to shaft) which I find for kidmala as a factor 
in the makeup of an arrow, and with the gloss on AV ni.25.2, rendered by 
Whitney “thing to fasten (samslesa-) tip to shaft,"—not, however, “like a ferrule,” 
but either a cement or glue, or as in AB 111.26 a binding with “sinews” ( snavdnt ), 
as also in M 1.429 naharu. 

36 (Vrsa-) kapi, perhaps a prototype of Hanuman, hence =; Vayu, into whom 
the Fire (and all other “half-deities”) returns when it goes out, being thus swal¬ 
lowed up. 



SOME PALI WORDS 

smeared with poison,” but it will be seen that there are other ways and 
for other reasons that an arrow can be “smeared.” 

We can now take up the Pali contexts. In M 11.105 and Dh 80 and 145, 
“Irrigators lead the water, fletchers straighten their shafts ( usu\dra na- 
mayanti tejanam), carpenters shape ( namayanti ) the wood, the learned 
train themselves ( attanam damayanti pandita).” It will be observed that 
nam is not here literally to “bend,” but to “sway” in the sense of “con¬ 
trol” or “manage,” and give the proper form to any material. 37 “Fletchers 
straighten their shafts” is a legitimate but not a literal translation of what 
is really “fletchers control their fire”; and this is in some respects a better 
rendering from the Buddhist point of view, according to which it is pre¬ 
cisely by the proper control of the fire of life that the “self” is rectified. 
What is important in the present connection, however, is the connection 
of a word implying heat with a metaphor that has all to do with a put¬ 
ting straight, an ordering of things in the way they should go, that is to 
say, straight to their end. 

We can now conclude with the text of J vi.66 and the corresponding 
representation of the fletcher at work, at Bharhut (Cunningham, pi. 44, 
fig. 2). The “moral” is one of single-mindedness; the fletcher sees better 
with one eye closed, sighting along the arrow to sec whether it is straight, 
and disregarding what might be simultaneously seen by the other eye, 
were it open. The text reads, tasmin samaye usukaro angarakppalle usum 
tapetvd kahji 1 {ena temetvd el{am a\\him nimtletva cheri olopcnto ujum 
karoti, “Just then a fletcher, heating an arrow over a fire-pan, and moist¬ 
ening it with paste, had one eye closed and looking with the other was 
straightening the arrow.” It should now be clear how it is that a heating 
{tejanam or tapas) is essential to the make-up of an arrow, but not a 
concrete part of an arrow. It appears also that an arrow may be smeared 
with a view to temporary softening and not with poison: the expressions 
tapasabhidigdha and digdha in AV v.18.8,15 imply, then, rather a straight¬ 
ening than a poisoning of the Brahman’s verbal shafts, which are “ter¬ 
rible,’ not as being venomous, but inasmuch as they fly “straight to the 
point. ’ There is no evidence that tejanam ever refers to the sharpening 
of an arrow. 38 It is often possible to render tejanam literally by “heat” or 
fire. A rendering by shaft or arrow is possible if we assume the series 

7 Nam ‘ s found already in AV nr.25.2, where salyam . . . tarn susamnatam \rtva 
* S ; s endered ky Whitney "having made that arrow well-straightened.” 

An arrow is “whetted” literally or metaphorically by an incantation ( brahma- 
tamsita, RV vi.75.16) or by "worship” {upasanisitam, Mund. Up. 11.2.4); just as 
a sword is “whetted” by an invocation of the Gale, SB 1.2.4.5-7. 

287 


286 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

of associated ideas, heat straightening, straight, and straight-going (rjita, 
RV vi.75.12; rju-ga, cited from a lexikon as a kenning for “arrow”): it is, 
in fact, in this way that in RV 1.110.5, tejanena (in spite of Sayana’s 
tihjanena sastrena) must mean “with a (straight) rod,” a rod compared 
to an arrow or “shaft” of light, manus tejanena here corresponding to 
rasmina . .. mame in RV vm.25.18; that tejanam in AV 1.2.4 (where it is 
the Axis Mundi, diva-s\ambha ) is “fiery pillar"-, and the tejanam in M 
11.105 = salyam, “arrow,” in AV m.25.2, as can be clearly seen from the 
use of root nam in both contexts. 

thilpa. The original meaning of stupa , top, peak, head, dome, etc., may 
be noted in D m.117, where Nathaputta having died, the Nigantha doc¬ 
trine and discipline arc “broken-headed and without protection” ( bhinna - 
thupe appatisarane). In J vi.117, a vimana , palace, is described as panca- 
thupa, “five-domed,” a meaning and reference found in the Dictionary, 
s.v. thupi\a. But it makes no reference to thupilpd of Mhv xxxi.13, which 
here appears to be a noun meaning “dome”—the dome, or spire, of a 
pasada, palace. The Dictionary knows of thilpa only as “tomb" and “tope” 
(dhatu-gabbha). The Buddhist tomb is dhatu-gabbha by function, and 
thupa by its domed form, which corresponds to that of the cranium. 

Di\kjxita. The purpose of the present article is to inquire whether or 
not the regular Buddhist ordination can be equated with initiation 
(dikja )} 9 The root occurs in Pali only very rarely, in dik^hita = dikjita. 
In S 1.226, a prophet (isi = rsi; the word is also used of the Buddha 
and of Buddhist monks) is cira-di\\hita, “long initiated,” explained by 
the Commentator as cira-pabbajita ,' 10 “long ordained as a Pilgrim.” Cira- 

30 It should be needless to say that "ordination” as such must be distinguished 
from “initiation” as such: the former, however significant, is merely the conferring 
of a specific “character" and comparable to the imposition, of a new "form” on 
already “formed" material; the latter is always a second birth, the birth of another 
and new man, not a reformation of but a transformation of the man that was 
before. It does not follow that what has been called an ordination (in translation) 
may not in fact have been an initiation. In any case the Buddhist ordination is not 
the imposition of a “priestly” character; the monk is not a "priest.” For a discus¬ 
sion of Buddhist ordination see Psalms of the Brethren, index, s.v. [cf. Theragatha 

—ED.]. 

40 The root meaning of pabbajati is to “go forth,” “go into exile,” and of the 
causative pabbajeti, to “be exiled” or “banished,” hence technically to abandon 
the indoor and household life and adopt that of the “unroofed” Pilgrim. The 
Pilgrim carries his own roof (umbrella) about with himself. 


SOME PALI WORDS 

pabbajita contrasts, of course, with navo acira-pabbajita, “recently ordained 
a Pilgrim,” in other contexts, both terms being of common occurrence. 
J v.138-39, reading cira-da\\hita, refers to “prophets” ( isayo) in the fol¬ 
lowing of the Bodhisattva Sarabhanga-Jotipala, who is unquestionably a 
solar principle; and this spelling is of interest because it preserves the 
form of the root dakj, “to be able,” the basic value of di\sita, “initiated,” 
being precisely “enabled.” 

Taking now for granted the reader’s knowledge of the significance of 
initiation in India and elsewhere, 41 we shall argue that pabbajita has really 
the value di\sita, and a fortiori that upasampadd has that of a more 
advanced initiation. The first ordinations were necessarily made by the 
Buddha himself, who used the significant words “Come, mendicant monk 
( ehi-bhih]{hu ),” reminiscent of the welcome, “Come (ehi)" addressed 
by the Sun to the would-be entrant who has rightly answered the question 
“Who art thou?” (JUB rn.14.5, cf. Rum!, Mathnawi 1.3602-3). If desig¬ 
nations such as “Kinsman of the Sun” ( ddicca-bandhu) are to be taken 
literally, as they must be for all those who are not misled by the “histori¬ 
cal” form of the “Buddha legend,” this is sufficient to show that such ordi¬ 
nations were really initiations and invitations, in the etymological senses 
of the words: the historical Buddha is surely an euhemerisation of the 
Vedic Agni, 42 who is likewise “awakened” at dawn ( usar-budh ) and is 
the “deity of the initiate” (agni vai di\sitasya devata , TS 111.1.3). Nor is 
anything changed in principle by the delegation of the power of ordina¬ 
tion or initiation to others (who are constantly referred to as “Sons of 
the Buddha,” e.g., S 1.192), such a transmission being equally necessary 
and regular in the most unquestionably orthodox conditions, and indeed 
inevitable if there is to be a transmission of a veritable gnosis from genera¬ 
tion to generation. 

The original ordinations had conferred pabbajja (the status of “Pil¬ 
grim”) and upasampadd (“full attainment,” and almost literally the state 
of being an “Adept”) simultaneously. After the delegation of power we 
find that both are still conferred together, but by a quorum of the mendi- 

44 See the comprehensive series of articles on “Initiation” published by Rene 
Guenon in recent volumes of Btudes traditionelles [see Rene Guenon, Apcrcus sur 
initiation, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1953), in which the articles cited by Coomaraswamy are 
co lected— ed.]. We hope to publish on some future occasion some of the principal 
•Indian texts in which the subject is treated. 

^ Entile Scnart, La Lcgendc du Bouddha (Paris, 1875), p. 425: “[le] trtine 
| u Bouddha substitue a l’ancien autel brahmanique; [lc Bouddha] perpeiue sous 
une forme nouvelle la presence du feu sacre.” 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


SOME PALI WORDS 


cant monks, upon those who having been tonsured and robed, repeated 
thrice the formula of “Taking Refuge.” We find then that upasampada 
can only be conferred on the recommendation of a teacher, upon some 
younger monk who has come to him as a pupil. The teacher is called 
upajjhaya, literally “one who is gone up near to,” the pupil a saddhiviha- 
ri\a, literally “associate resident,” i.e., who lives with the teacher in daily 
intimacy. The relation is formally paternal; the pupil renders the teacher 
personal service. Before a teacher can receive any monk as pupil, he must 
himself have been fully ordained, must have been an “Adept,” for at least 
ten years. Under these conditions he may, when he sees fit, propose the 
pupil as a candidate for upasampada to the monastic assembly; the pupil, 
for his part, formally requesting the assembly to “extract me” ( ullumpatu 13 
mam'), suggestive of the Brahmana formula “as a snake (ahi) might be 
freed from ( nirmucyeta ) its slough, or as one might draw ( viurhet ) an 
arrow from a reed ( munjdt ), so is he liberated ( nirmucyate ) from all evil” 
(JB 11.134, etc 0 A monk thus fully ordained or initiated might after ten 
years himself receive pupils. The succession of such Vinaya teachers from 
Upali to Mahinda is given in the Dipavamsa. All this has the appearance 
of the regular system of transmission from spiritual father to spiritual son 
( guru-parampara ) in generation after generation, but with a specific 
adaptation to the more communal character of the Buddhist order of 

13 SB in.1.4.1 describes dlkja as an audgrabhana or “lifting up" (from this world 
to that of the gods), and it is to this expression that the Buddhist designation of 
ordination as an ullumpana seems to correspond. A. Preau calls my attention to 
the fourteenth stanza of the Paramartha-sara of Abhinavagupta, where it is said 
that it is the function of the mantras, “by their conducive nature (anugraha-sva- 
bhavat) to extricate animal-men ( pasun uddbarium) .” 

14 This well-known series of similes recurs in M 11.17 ( an d D '■~ 7 < c f- '- 34 )» 
“I have shown my disciples the means ( patipanna , with reference to contemplative 
practices already listed) whereby they can create ( abhinimminanti , abhi- implying 
a super- or transformation, where the simple nimminanti would mean only a 
formation) out of this body (the aforesaid kayo rupi catummahabhutiko, the formal 
body based on the four elements) another formal body of intellectual substance 
( anham /{iiyam . . . rupim manomayam = D 1.34 anno atta dibbo rupi manomayo), 
complete with all its limbs and members, and with transcendental faculties (abhi- 
n-indriycam, but in D 1.34 and 1.77 ahinindriyo, not deprived of any faculty). It 
is just as if a man should draw out ( pabbaheyya = pravrhet) an arrow (isikam) 
from a reed (muhjamha) , or a sword from its scabbard, or a snake ( ahim ) from 
its slough. He is aware that arrow and reed are two different things, that sword 
and scabbard are different things, that snake and slough are different things; he 
is aware that the arrow is just what has been extracted from ( pabbalhoprabrdha ) 
the reed, etc.” With this body of intellectual substance he enjoys omniscience 
( abhinha ) and is a Mover-at-will as far as the Brahma-heavens (yam brahmalo\a 
pi kdycna vasam vattenti). 


“pilgrims (pabbajita) ,” who from the earliest times were thought of as 
a “congregation” ( samgha ) rather than as solitaries. 

There are also internal evidences. Ordination involved the abandon¬ 
ment of one’s own and of one’s family name ( ndma-gotta )—“just as when 
rivers reach the sea, they abandon their name and descent ( pajahanti 
nama-gottani) . . . ,” the Pilgrim now becoming a “Son of Buddha” 
( saky a puttiya, Ud 55). Ordination is, in fact, a second birth: we find to¬ 
gether with yato jato, “from the time I was born,” such expressions as yato 
ariyaya jatiyd jato, “from the time I was born of the Aryan kin” ( Majjhi- 
ma Ni\aya, 11.103), i.e., as a sakya puttiya, a “Buddha-son,” and even 
more explicit the passage in which Kassapa speaks of his perfect mastery 
and calls himself a “natural son of the Blessed One, born of his mouth, 
born of the Dhamma, fashioned by the Dhamma, and an heir of the 
Dhamma (S 11.221).“ 

45 In the Agganna Sutta (D 111.84), where these formulae recur, it is explained 
that they are applicable only to those whose faith ( saddhd ) in the Buddha is set- 
ded, radical, well-grounded, and such that they cannot be robbed of it. The Sutta 
as a whole is an admirable description of the Fall and Regeneration of man, 
though at D m.81-82 it affords a good example of the childish level to which 
the Pali texts can descend for controversial purposes; here the Brahman claim to 
be “Natural sons of Brahma, born of his mouth, etc.” is ridiculed, and rcfuted(!) 
by the argument that Brahmans, like other men, arc visibly born of woman, de¬ 
spite the identification of Buddha with Brahma (or Brahman) at 111.84. The in¬ 
tention of the Pali text is evidently to distinguish the Brahman by human birth 
from the Brahma = Arhat who becomes a son of God by adoption; but in order 
to make this distinction the real significance of RV x.90 is perverted. Equally 
childish is the argument of the Tcvijja Sutta (D 1.235 ff.) that the Vedas are 
futile because of the different “paths” that are taught in their schools; the Brah¬ 
man protagonist rightly maintains that all alike are straight roads to Brahma (i.e., 
Prajapati), but the Buddha is made to say that this is ridiculous, because the Brah¬ 
mans themselves do not claim to have seen Brahma or to know where he is— 
an argument of really astonishing puerility. In the same way S 1.61-62, where it is 
well said that “World's end is within you,” but it is pretended that the Rohita of 
AB vn.15 did not know this and had thought that World’s End could be reached 
by an actual locomotion. Or again D m.127, where the meaning of passam na pas- 
sati (= BU iv.3.23 na pasyati pasyan uai) is distorted. Passages such as these show 
clearly enough that the Pali canon includes much that is of purely human, and 
all-too-human origin. It is in spite of such passages that a fairly thorough study 
of the Pali texts has led us to believe that the early Buddhist dhamma is essentially 
orthodox and only superficially heterodox. We believe that the Buddha meant what 
e said when he affirmed that he “had found the ancient path and followed it” 
(b 11.106, reflecting BU iv.4.8), viz. that “ancient” (path) which the Brahmans 
fD° d « are S3 '^ t0 ^ aVe remcm bered (S iv.117) but which others have forgotten 
‘"■ 8r “ 82 ), the “primordial walk with Brahman” of D m.40. We believe that 
e Buddha came “not to destroy but to fulfill the law.” 


290 


291 





MAJOR ESSAYS 

Nor is it by any means anyone or everyone that can be ordained. As 
an example of intellectual qualification there can be cited the case of the 
“Long-haired Fire-men” {aggi\a jatila, i.e., Brahman ascetics whose deity 
was Agni) who could be given upasampada immediately, without the 
usual four months’ probation ( parivasa ) because they were already \am- 
mavadino and \iriyavddino, ie i.e., believed in the “causal origination” of 
all phenomena whatever, and at the same time that there is an “ought 
to be done,” to be contrasted with an “ought not to be done,” or “savoir- 
faire” to be contrasted with a “laissez-faire” (the opposites of these posi¬ 
tions are well known “heresies” from the Buddhist point of view). We 
need not cite here from the Cullavagga the long list of disqualifications, 
but only say that these may be moral, intellectual, or physical, the physical 
disqualifications including a great variety of deformities and diseases.' 17 

Where, as in Burma, it is the rule for everyone to become a monk for 
a limited time, or when a Buddhist king is temporarily ordained, 18 it 
would appear that this temporary retreat from the world corresponds 

48 The opposites of these positions are well-known “heresies" ( miccha-ditthi) 
from the Buddhist point of view, as they must be from that of any orthodox teach¬ 
ing. Expressed in Christian terms, kammavada is the doctrine that all “accidents” 
are causally originated, nothing whatever happening by chance or because of any 
direct divine intervention; kiriyavuda that there is an “ought-to-bc-done” and an 
“ought-not-to-be-done ifikinya )." It should be noted, however, that ahiriyavada 
as a heretical doctrine implies that there is “not-an-ought-to-be-done" and cor¬ 
responds to the ‘‘amoralism” with which the Amaurians were charged in the 
Middle Ages. In the same connection it should be observed that while the moral 
values are, if anything, overemphasized in Buddhism (a fact closely connected 
with its especially Ksatriya character), it is not pretended that right conduct is of 
more than a necessary dispositive value in relation to the final attainment: as is 
clearly shown in the Parable of the Raft (M r.135), where conduct is a "boat” to 
be abandoned when the “Farther Shore” has been reached, and in Dh 267, where 
those who have rejected virtue and vice alike (yo ca purinan ca pdpam bahetva) 
can rightly be called “walkers with God in this world” and "mendicant-monks.” 

47 Nagas (serpents of partly human character but retaining ophidian characteris¬ 
tics) are disqualified, even though they may be moved by the best intentions. To 
this corresponds the “folklore” principle, that mermaids cannot as such acquire 
a “soul,” but must be “married” to a human being, at the same time losing their 
scaly tails, which are changed into feet, so that no trace of their ophidian origin 
remains. In reality, of course, it is always a Solar Hero that "marries” the mermaid 
( ndgini ), and to this situation (that of Apala in relation to Indra) can be applied 
the words of Donne, “Nor ever chaste unless Thou ravish me.” 

45 For the cases of Asoka and of the Chinese Emperor Wu-ti, both of whom 
took orders without effective abdication, see Vincent Smith, Early History of India 
(Oxford, 1924), p. 168. 

292 


SOME PALI WORDS 

exactly to that of the Vedic Sacrificer ( yaja-mana) 40 who devotes himself 
and, being initiated ( di\sita ), is during the operation no longer himself, 
no longer “this man,” un tel, until when the operation is relinquished he 
returns to himself, from the Truth to the Falsehood, and becomes once 
more “who he really is” in the worldly sense, So-and-so by name and 
lineage. 

Buddhist ordination, we conclude, has not only the appearance but also 
the significance of an initiation. The only possible alternative would be 
to regard it as a pseudo- or even counter-initiation. The latter alternative 
is manifesdy out of the question: 50 nor can the former be entertained 
by anyone who accepts the texts in their entirety, in which the Buddha 
is described as more than man and as of Agni’s and solar lineage. 

natthi\a. Literally a “There-is-not-ist,” or a little more freely, “Nothing- 
morist,” the term is used in Sanskrit and Pali alike to mean approxi¬ 
mately what is meant by our “skeptic,” “materialist,” “pragmatist,” or 
“atheist.” The man who maintains “there is no other world ( natthi paro 
despite the fact that “there is assuredly another world” ( santam 

49 In this connection it is worthy of note that yajamana is a form that may be 
either reflexive or passive, and thus means both "Sacrificer” and “Sacrificed.” That 
the Sacrificer who is also a Comprehensor of the ritual is really a “sacrificer of 
himself ( atma-yajni )” is repeatedly affirmed (e.g., SB x.2.6.13-14), and this is 
also true of the Chrisdan sacrifice (the Mass). 

50 The Putinas, in which the Buddha is reckoned an avatar of Visnu, consider 
that he was born as a deceiver in order to lead astray the enemies of the Devas. 
We are more inclined to think that (as in Mark 4:11-12) the Buddhist dhamma 
is presented in a form that could easily be misunderstood (cf., for example, D 
111.40, where it is described as “hard to be understood by you who are of different 
views, another tolerance, other tastes, other allegiance, and other training”), and 
that it could have enlightened some (“to whom it is given to know the mystery 
of the kingdom of God”) and deluded others (“them that are without, lest at 
any ume they be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them”). I have known 
a modern scholar to admit that "temperament and training” alike prevented his 
acceptance of traditional points of view. The Indian pandit rarely attempts to cor¬ 
rect the European scholar who may entertain what he knows is a false view: 
one has to ask the right question before one gets the right answer. The Buddhist 
dhamma, in the same way, like many other “secret doctrines,” protects its own 

secret.” What is in any case highly significant is the synthesis of Saiva and Bauddha 
cults that is so conspicuous in the Indian Middle Ages. 

51 Cf. J v.228, where the ucchedavadi (“annihilationist,” “materialist”) is defined 
as one who maintains that “there is no such thing as going from this world to 
another; this world is cut off” (ito paralo\o-gata nama natthi, ayam lo\o ncchijjati). 
In J vi.225 the same heresy is supported by the argument “for who has ever come 

293 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


SOME PALI WORDS 


yeva, {ho pana param lo\am ) 52 and as against “Arhats versed in the 
other world” ( paralofia-viduno ) is “a bad-liver, a man o£ false view 
(heretic), a denier” (dussilo . . . miccha-ditthi natthi{avado , M 1.403, cf. 
A 11.31 and S 111.73). Natthifia in S 1.96 does not mean “empty of hand” 
or “one who refuses alms”(!) but a “denier” as above: we cannot under¬ 
stand the translator’s comment “we find no parallel to this term.” In 
S 11.17 natthitd, “Not-ism,” and atthitd, “Is-ism,” are the two extreme views 
of denial and affirmation which are popularly maintained with respect to 
what may be called the question of the reality or persistent identity of 
the world or of the individual, in which connection it is further debated 
whether it is the same individual who in this life or in another both 
acts and reaps the reward of acts, or whether one acts and another reaps. 
The Buddha teaches a Middle Way 53 of “Causal Origination” ( paticcasa - 
tnuppada), according to which “things” arc to be regarded without any 
“in themselves”'’ 1 and only as phenomena (rupa) that have arisen in such 
and such a way (yathd-bhiitam, “as-become”), viz. in an ordered causal 
sequence. The gist of this doctrine (stated again very clearly in M 1.421) has 
been admirably summarized by the translator in Kindred Sayings [= S] 

back thence?” ({o tato hi idhagato), an appeal to the common experience that the 
dead do not return (as stated also in D 11.226 and J 11.242 and in accordance with 
the normal doctrine of the Brahmanas and Upanisads, SB n.6.1.6, xm.8.4.12, etc., and 
CU vm.2.3). 

82 Cf. Ud 80, atthi ajatam abhutam dkatam asam{hatam, “There is an Unborn, 
Unbecome, Not-made, Without-composition.” 

53 Boethius, Contra Evtycken 7, maintains that faith holds a middle course 
between contrary heresies. Fact and fiction alike are “what we ma\e of" our 
observations; neither is an absolute, or more than a useful jayon de parler, neither 
are any but statistical proofs available for the recognition of fact or fiction. Truth 
itself is transcendent with respect to fact and fiction alike, as is Goodness with 
respect to virtue and vice, and Beauty with respect to lovely and unlovely. 

01 No Buddhist would deny that appearances appear. If our apprehension of these 
appearances can be corrected by closer observation, it may serve practical ends, but 
the better observation is still only the actual or theoretical registration of an appear¬ 
ance (shape), and so on ad infinitum. This will apply even if “things" are reduced to 
mathematical formulae, which are still “shapes.” The question, “Is there a thing in 
itself?” is meaningless: we can only ask, “Is there a form corresponding to the matter 
(dimension or number) ?” The traditional answer assumes the existence of such a 
form or idea of the thing, as its eternal reason; this is a “reality,” but observe that 
we are now no longer dealing with a self-subsistcnt thing “in itself,” but with the 
thing “in intellect” and consubstantial with this intellect. It is in this sense that the 
metaphysician is a “realist”: popular and scientific “realism” (= philosophical “nomi¬ 
nalism") coincides with “aestheticism” and “sentimentality.” 


11.22, note: “The subject of the resulting experience is himself the result 
of the causal experience, as much and as little identical as is, say, the tree 
with the seedling” (or the child with the man). For us today, whose view 
is animistic and whose interests are psychic rather than spiritual, and who 
think accordingly of a sentient identity as persisting through life or even 
after death, 55 this would be an “Is-ist” solution. 56 But for the Buddhist 
(as for Plato, Symposium 207DE; cf. Plutarch, Moralia 392") this does 
not follow: the persistence of an identity even from day to day is not a 
“fact” but a merely “conventional truth”; the fact is that, as in the monkey 
parable of S 11.95, “will, mind, knowledge (attain, mano, vinnanam, 
i.e., the whole mental personality), this every day and every night arises 
(uppajjati) as one thing and is destroyed (nirujjhati) as another,” and as 
in the parable of the chariot, 58 S 1.135, where the name of “essence” (satta) 
is said to be given only conventionally (sammucca) to what is not really 
a simple substance, but an aggregate. In the same way at death “the soul 
and body that were in a previous becoming is destroyed without residue 
and another steps forward (purimabhave nama-rupam asesam niruddham, 
ahham uppannam, Vis 413),” and it is a heresy to maintain that “this 
consciousness (idam vinnanam) concurs and migrates (samdhavati samsa- 

55 Few if any materialists have attempted to disprove the immortality of the "soul” 
by adducing its manifest mutability, or by the argument that whatever has had a 
beginning in time must also end in time. That the scientist would rather disprove 
the spiritualist’s “phenomena” than disprove the latter’s interpretations of them is 
significant of the former’s real position. For the metaphysician the phenomena, how¬ 
ever well attested, are of no more interest than any other phenomena; but his inter¬ 
pretation of them is very different from the spiritualist’s (cf. Rene Guenon, L’Erreur 
spirits, Paris, 1930). The attitude of orthodox religion (essendally one of indiffer¬ 
ence) is also very “correct”; in any case only the “intellectual virtues” survive, 
and these are certainly not those that the “dear departed” are said to display. How 
far the Buddhist is from the spiritualistic position appears not only in the whole 
treatment of “individuality” (liberation being precisely from the “personality” for 
die survival of which the spiritualist adduces “proofs”), but conspicuously in Sn 
774 , where the question “What shall we come to be after death" (fiim su bhavis- 
sama ito cutasc) is one that can only be asked by ignorant worldlings. 

58 The doctrine of “Causal Origination” is expressly described as “profound” and 
“hard to be understood” by those of an altogether different temperament and train¬ 
ing (S 11.92 and 11.267, D 111.40, etc.). 

" 7 Plutarch, Moralia 392D: “Dead is the man of yesterday, for he is passed into 
the man of today; and the man of today is dying as he passes into the man of 
tomorrow. Nobody remains one person, nor is one person. . . . Our senses, through 
ignorance of reality, falsely tell us that what appears to be, is.” 

oS The “chariot” in Indian scripture generally is the psycho-physical vehicle, 
itself an aggregate, in which the simple substance of the Spirit “rides.” 


294 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

rati ) without loss of identity ( anannam , M 1.256) ; 5 ' J and yet it cannot 
be said that death is an automatic release from evil and from works (Mil 
72) because “beings ( sattd ) are the heirs of acts (h.amma-dayada).” 80 
It must never be overlooked that traditional doctrine makes no distinc- 
tion in principle between our daily deaths and births and death and birth 
“when the time comes”: this together with an understanding of what is 
meant by the two selves 61 (in Buddhism the great or fair and little or 
foul selves) are essential to a grasp of any Indian scripture. As to the 
survival of personality, whether from day to day or life to life, the Buddha 
teaches a Middle Way of understanding—that of continuity without 
identity. 

It remains only to add that the corresponding Skr. nastika and ndsti\ya 
= natthita are found in Brahmanical contexts. In MU 11.5, ndsti ky am 
is grouped with fear, hunger, anger, ignorance, etc., in a long list of 
tdmasa qualities; BG 11.42 gives the sense of Pali natthi\a, but not the 
word itself, thus, “Flowery words are uttered by the stolid, whose delight 
is in the literal sense of the Vedas, saying ‘There is nothing more’ (ndn- 
yad astiti vadinah).” In the same way KU 11.6, although not mentioning 
the term nastika, actually defines the “nothing-morist” in words identical 
with those of M 1.403 and J v.228 cited above, viz. as one “who holds that 
‘there is no other world but this’ {ayam lo\o ndsti para iti mani)," i.e., 
who denies that there are possibilities other than possibilities of manifesta¬ 
tion. For Manu ndstikya is an ahetuvdda and effectively an ucchedavada: 
we find in 111.65 ! b at “by the denial of causality, families are soon de¬ 
stroyed {ndstikycna ca karmanam kulany a'sa vinasyanti),” which we un¬ 
derstand to mean that to deny the inheritance of the father’s karmic 
character by the son is is to deny the reality of filiation, and thus to “de¬ 
stroy the family,” as traditionally understood: for from this point of view, 
where there is no hereditary transmission of a vocation and a character, 
there is no family line. In the same way Manu vui.22, a kingdom infested 
by nasti\as is destroyed; in 11.11, and 111.150, ndsti kas are grouped with 

59 Cf. in M 1.366, alam . . . annathattdya, “Have you had enough of otherness?" 
i.e., “of the vicissitudes” of life. 

60 For inheritance in this sense, see BU 1.5.17 and Kaus. Up. 11.15 ( pitaputriyam 
sampratti or sampradanam) and JB 1.18.10, tasya putra day am upayanti. 

61 The one an essence (spiritual or intellectual), the other an existence (psycho¬ 
physical and sensitive). In Christianity, the soul to be saved and soul to be lost in 
Luke 17:33, or hated, Luke 14:26, the spirit as sundered from soul in Heb. 4:12: 
the soul to be “hated” being precisely the psyche of the “psychologist.” So also for 
Rumi, “the soul ( najs ) is hell” {Mathnawi 1.1375): cf. JUB iv.26, mano narabah, 
etc. 


SOME PALI WORDS 

thieves, belittlers of the Veda, outcasts, sudras, etc., and in iv.163 and 
xi.67 ndsti ky a is coupled with belittling the Veda and with murder. 62 

We conclude that the nastika is a nominalist, a denier especially of any 
but empirical truths: and that the word can best be rendered by “skeptic,” 
a word that has the further advantage of corresponding in value to Pali 
ditthika , generally in the bad sense of one who entertains false opinions. 

naga. While in the vast majority of cases naga as type or epithet of the 
Buddha or other Arhat is “elephant,” there is a text of special interest, 
the Vammlka ( Valmiki ) Sutta, M 1.142-145, in which the khindsava 
bhikkhu> i- e -> Arahat, is typified by a naga that is unquestionably a cobra. 
A certain Deva appears to the elder Kumara Kassapa and says, “almsman, 
almsman, this is an ant-hill that flames by day and smokes by night.” The 
Brahman answers, “take a spade, Sumcdha, and dig it up.” 83 The Deva 
accordingly digs, and unearths a variety of objects, which he is told to 

82 That from an Indian point of view the lineage ceases as soon as the charac¬ 
teristic habit of the family is neglected is clearly seen in the Ma\hadeva Sutta 
(M 11.75-83); it is the "lovely custom" {\alydna vatla) of this royal line that when 
the barber finds the first gray hair in the king's head, the king adopts the religious 
life and hands over the kingdom to his son; this tradition is maintained for 84,000 
years, but broken at last, the Buddha remarking “When on the part of one of 
two successive persons there is a breaking down of such a lovely custom, the 
former of them is the last (of the line),” so tesam antimapuriso hoti. In the same 
way the carpenter whose son should become a shopkeeper would certainly be con¬ 
sidered the last of his line. A memory of the same point of view survives in the 
attitude of the parent whose son or daughter has committed some heinous offense 
and who says “you are no child of mine,” or even simply “disinherits” die child. 
The extension of a lineage is literally the repeated rebirth of fathers in sons; each 
of whom is thought of as taking his father’s place in the world. This is the prin¬ 
ciple of hereditary vocation, and it underlies all the resistance that is offered to 
the breakdown of the caste system in accordance with which one’s function is de¬ 
termined by heredity and not by personal choice. It would hardly be possible to 
deny that in modern times and before our eyes “civilization" (in this sense, that 
of the Indian “family and kingdom”) has been destroyed by skepticism (materi¬ 
alism), individualism (involving free choice of occupation) and the “rise” (to 
power) of die proletariat (sudra). In a dictatorship there is government by a single 
sudra, in a soviet government by a few sudras, and in a democracy government by 
many sudras; none of these conditions corresponds to Indian conceptions of civili¬ 
zation or order; what the modern terms progress is for the traditionalist dis¬ 
integration. 

1,3 Chalmers’ version confuses die speakers; it is quite clear from the sequence 
of the text that “Brahman” refers to Kassapa, and “Sumedha” to the Deva. From 

hA 111.146, we learn that the Deva had been a monk in the time of the Buddha 
Kassapa and had arisen in the Brahma-world as a nonreturner but not vet fully 

perfected. 


296 


297 




MAJOR ESSAYS 

reject, and to dig further. At last he comes to a cobra ( ndga ), and says, 
“a cobra, your reverence ( bhadante ).” The Brahman answers, “let it be, 
harm it not, pay it honor.” 

At this point something is missing; it must be understood that the 
Deva asks fifteen questions about what has been found, and that Kassapa 
cannot answer them. The Deva then tells Kassapa to put the questions 
to the Buddha, whose answer will be convincing. He does so, and the 
Buddha explains that the interpretation ( adhivacanam ) of the ant-hill is 
“the body,” of the fire “acts,” of the smoke “thoughts,” of the Brahman 
“the Tathagata, the Arahat, the Fully-awakened”; of Sumedha an “alms¬ 
man still a pupil,” of the spade the “Aryan insight,” of the digging 
“heroic effort,” 6 ' of the various objects “bonds, etc. to be rejected,” and 
of the cobra (ndga)™ “the almsman freed of the foul issues (khinasava 
bhi\\hu ): Let him be, harm him not, do him honor.” We learn from 
J 1.148 and DhA in.147 that as a result of these interpretations Kassapa 
became an Arahat. 

In one other context (S v.47, cf. v.63), the attainment of maturity by 
almsmen is compared to the development of young snakes (or eels) 80 
who are born in the hills and go down to the sea by way of the lakes 
and rivers, only attaining their full development in the sea, which is here 
an equivalent of nibbdna, amata (see “ samudda”). 

It is thus firmly established that ndga in the ophidian sense may be the 
symbol of an Arahat or Buddha. Further evidence is afforded by Dh 179, 

61 Digging for buried treasure, in a spiritual sense, appears several times in RV. 

85 In the chapter immediately following, two Arahats arc described (M 1.151) 
as “two great ndgas," and it is probable that in this case also it is ndga as “snake” 
rather than ndga as “elephant” that is meant. In Vin 1.24-25, where the Buddha 
overcomes Ahi-niiga in the Jatila fire-temple, he is referred to as manussa-naga 
and here ndga has certainly its ophidian sense; that the Buddha “fights fire with 
fire” (tejasd tejam) corresponds to TS v.2.4.1, where the kindled Agni and "the 
Agni that was before hate one another." In many other contexts the value of ndga 
is uncertain. 

68 The word is ndga, but the description suggestive rather of an imperfect knowl¬ 
edge of the life-history of eels than of snakes. If eels were regarded as “snakes,” 
this may in part account for the characteristic association of ndgas with the Waters, 
but does not affect the symbolic values. 

Naga is probably also “snake” in M 1.386 ndgassa pantasenassa khinasamyo-ja- 
nassa. Elsewhere ndga, as a symbol or epithet of the perfected Buddha or Arahat, 
is usually “elephant,” and always, of course, where the symbol of the hatthi-pada 
is involved, ndga = hatthi, gaja. It is from a different point of view, of course, 
that the elephant’s track can be followed up, as for example in Mil 346, yathd pi 
gajardjassa padam disvana, and similar texts corresponding to the doctrine of the 
vestigium pedis in Brahmanical contexts and in Christianity. 


SOME PALI WORDS 

“That Buddha whose ‘pasture’is infinite (ananta-gocaram), being without 
feet (apadam, a kenning for ‘snake,’ and implying also ‘leaving no track’), 
by what track can you track him down? (kena padena nessatha).” This 
text is closely affiliated to BU m.8.8, where the Brahman is acakjuh- 
srotram tad apdny apadam . . . anantaram, and Mund. Up. 1.1.6, where 
the Brahman is adrsyam agrahyam agotram avarnam acaksuhsrotram tad 
apdny apadam, etc., and, it may be added with Shams-i-Tabriz, “the last 
step, to fare without feet” and “in me is no T and no ‘We,’ I am naught, 
without head, without feet” (RumI, Divan, pp. 137, 295). 

At the same time we have wished to point out the parallel in Greek 
mythology, where not only may Zeus (= Dyaus Pitr = Varuna = apara 
Brahman = Buddha parinibbuto) be represented as a snake, but the Hero 
entombed is also a snake: Jane Harrison, Prolegomena to the Study of 
Greek, Religion (3rd cd., Cambridge, 1922), fig. 96 (the snake is as¬ 
suredly within the tomb) is the very picture of an Indian thupa such as 
is erected for the Buddha (passim), or any parinibbuto bhi\k^ u (Ud 8). 
Without pursuing the subject further we shall only remark that if the 
snake is the symbol both of an imperfect nature to be abandoned and of 
a perfected nature to be realized, this corresponds to the double value 
of “nonbeing” (1) as a natural evil to 'be escaped from and (2) as a 
supernatural good to be attained, and to the polarity that is proper to all 
“negative” symbols, which imply on the one hand a privation and on 
the other a freedom from any limiting affirmation. 

ntccakappam. At M 1.249, where, after delivering a discourse, the Buddha 
says that he composes and settles his heart, focuses it and synthesizes it 
(cittam santhapemi sannisddemi ekpdi-karomi samadahami), and that this 
is in conformity with the former samddhi, “in which nicca\appam nicca- 
kappam viharami” the translator renders by “in which I always dwell.” 
This is to confuse nicca\appam with niccakalam : the meaning is “which 
I enjoy, or in which I rest, whenever l will.” “Always,” indeed, contradicts 
both the sense of the present context, in which the Buddha speaks of 
himself as entering into this samddhi at a certain time, and that of such 
passages as M 1.482, in which the Buddha’s knowledge as a man, as “Go- 
tama, now waking and now sleeping,” differs from his knowledge in 

contemplation. 


nibbdyati, nibbdna. It is familiar that nibbdna — nirvana implies the ex¬ 
tinction of a flame. Nirvana is literally “not-blowing,” or more technically, 


298 


299 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


SOME PALI WORDS 


“despiration”: nibbutam nirvatam thus corresponding to avatam in 
RV x.129.2, tad e\am anid avatam being the exact equivalent of Eck- 
hart’s Da diu zwei apgriinde in einer glicheit sweben gegeistet und en- 
geistet (“equally spirated, despirated”), da ist ein hohez wesen (Pfeiffer 
ed., p. 5x7). The PTS Dictionary, s.v. nibbdna, starts, however, with the 
erroneous statement that nir-va means to “blow,” ignoring the regularly 
privative value of nis. Insofar as nibbdna depends upon nirva, then, it 
implies an extinction or death by ceasing to blow, i.e., ceasing to breathe, 
and not an extinction by blowing “which latter process,” as the Dictionary 
remarks with unconscious pertinence to the history of the idea, “rather 
tends to incite the fire than to extinguish it”: Agni being in fact very 
often referred to as “quickened” (jutah) or “churned” ( mathitah) by 
the Gale (of the Spirit), 67 Vata, Vayu, Matarisvan, with whom he can 
also be identified, in accordance with the principle that both Agni and 
Vayu are “self-kindled” (RV 1.12.6; AB 11.34). Furthermore, the earlier 
references in the Dictionary are “to the fire going out, rather than to the 
fire being put out,” for which there are excellent metaphysical reasons as 
well as those “ethical” reasons to which the Dictionary refers. The ques¬ 
tion of a being “blown out” does not, in fact, arise at any time in connec¬ 
tion with the history of nirva. The Dictionary, s.v. nibbapeti (causative of 
nibbdyati), has, indeed, “to make cool by blowing” (this repeats the error 
noted above) and cites RV x.16.13 nirvdpaya, addressed to Agni, who is, 
as a matter of fact, besought to cool the ground that he has burnt, the 
still smoldering pyre; but here nirvdpaya (causative imperative) is by no 
means “make cool by blowing,” but “make cease to breathe,” or “cease 
to blow,” and in this way extinguish his own flames. To “cool,” though 
not by a “ blowing ” (which would not cool, but only fan the flame) is thus 
a proper sense of nirva, causative; it occurs thus in J 111.157 sabbam nibba - 
paye daram , “cool all my fever,” and survives in Brajabuli, e.g., nd nibhay 
hiyara dguni, “It cannot quench the flame at my heart” (S. Sen, History 
of Brajabuli Literature, Calcutta, 1935, p. 406). I cannot believe that 
nibbdyati or nibbdna has anything to do with any root (vr) meaning to 
“cover”; for example J vi.196 jdla . . . nibbdyati is simply “the fire ceases 
to draw,” and so “goes out.” 

We can now proceed to notice some of the Pali and Sanskrit contexts 
in which nibbdyati , or its equivalents, distinctly mean a “going out” of 
the fire, which is a death in the same sense that we speak of the fire as 

67 For Agni’s despiration, because of which he would go out, and contrasted with 
his being kept ablaze by fanning or a supply of fuel, cf. SB 11.8.3.7. 


“dying down.” The sense in which the fire “goes out” is almost always, 
in fact, parabolical, the reference being to the extinction of the flame of 
life. In M 1.487 the fire is “gone out for want of fuel” ( anaharo nibbuto), as 
that food or fuel, of course, by which the empirical consciousness is sup¬ 
ported throughout “life”: S 1.159 refers to the “going out of a flame” 
( pajjotassa nibbanam) : Sn 19 has “My roof yawns wide, my fire’s gone 
out” ( vivatd kuti, nibbuto gini) . Needless to say, too, that there are many 
kinds of “fire,” and that in many cases it is specifically the fire of anger 
(kodha, A iv.96), or more often the fires of passion, delusion, and defect 
(raga moha dosa, S iv.261) that are extinguished. In Sanskrit contexts 
va, nirva are usually found with direct reference to spiration, e.g., KB 
vii.9, where it is a question of the “breaths” (prana/;), and these “though 
blowing ( vantah) in various directions do not blow out” (na nirvanti\ 
Keith’s version). 63 When it is specifically a question of the going out of 
a fire, which no longer “draws” (air) the usual verb is udan ,' 0 in which 
the meanings of “aspire” and “expire" arc combined: thus in CU iv.3.1, 
yadd agnir udvayati vayum apyeti, “when the Fire gives up its breathing 
(dies out), it enters the Gale,” echoing SB x.3.3.8, “when the Fire goes out 
(yadd agnir anugacchati) it is into the Gale that it then blows out (vayum 
tarhi anudvdti), wherefore they say ‘It has expired’ (udavasit) In the 
same way for the Sun, Moon, and Quarters “established in the Gale, they 
are born again of the Gale, forsooth” (vayor .. . punar jayante, are “born 
of the Spirit”). “And the Comprehensor thereof, when he departs from 
this world . . . enters into the Gale with his life-breath, and being in and 
of it (etanmaya eva bhutva) he becomes whichever of these divinities he 
will, and moves at will” (ilayati, Sayana samcarati, cestati ).' 1 In the 
same way, Prasna Up. 111.9, “For those whose fiery-energy has expired, 

68 Just as in MU vi.34, “As fire, of fuel destitute, is quenched in its own source, 
so the will ( cittam) by the destruction of its versions is quenched (upasdmyatc) 
in its own source.” The hermeneutic interpretation of nibbdna as nir-vana, “without 
wood,” “without fuel,” is based on this aspect of the decease of the fire of life. 
Andhara = anabhoga as interpreted by Paul Mus in the sense “not deriving 
nourishment from any external source.” 

69 Cf. JUB 1.2.5-6. 

70 Note that udana in the sense of a “spontaneous utterance” is much rather an 
aspiration” (actually, not in the sense of “ambition”) than an “inspiration.” It is 

a product of the speaker’s own elevation. So C.A.F. Rhys Davids rightly translates 
Udana (the book so called) by “Verses of Uplift” (ignoring, of course, the 
vernacular and social meaning of “uplift”). 

Motion at will being a necessary consequence of consubstantiality with the 
Gale of the Spirit, which “bloweth where it listeth” (John 3:8), and “as it will” 
(yatha vasam, RV x.168.4). 


300 


301 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

so that their fiery-cnergies are quenched (tejo ha vd uddnas tasmad upa- 
santatejah) there is a regeneration ( punar bhavam), by way of the con¬ 
sistence of the powers-of-the-soul in the intellect.” There can be no 
question but that the Buddhist nibbayati preserves the values which are 
contained in the older texts on despiration. 

Our principal purpose in this note, however, is to emphasize that nib- 
bdna, and a fortiori parinibbana, is always a death or transformation, and 
to make it clear in what sense the death is a summum bonum, and coin¬ 
cident with a regeneration and the power of resurrection. Parinibbana is, 
in fact, synonymous with the parimara of AB vm.28, SA iv.12-13, and 
Kaus. Up. 11.12, 72 where “entering into the Gale, and being dead, yet 
they do not die, because they rise again,” with application alike to the 
divinities and to oneself. Pari- is not so much “round about" as (1) 
“thoroughly,” in the sense that “the kingdom of God is for none but 
the thoroughly dead"; and (2) “towards” or "in,” as when we speak of 
“dying in the Lord”: who in these contexts as in those cited above is 
Brahman identified with “He who blows (vdti) here,” i.e., Vayu, who 
does not blow yonder (SB vm.7.3.9), but as tad e{am, “That One,” “blow- 
eth and is still” (anid avatam, RV x.129.2), nor ever “goeth home,” being 
himself the “home” ( astam ) to which all others return (JUB m.1.1-3; 
BU 1.5.22), not excepting the Muni freed from mental and physical both 
{ndmakayd vimutto = namarupaya vimutto), who “as a spark that is 
sped by the force of the wind ‘goes home’ and no count can be kept of 
him” (Sn 1074); they are “gone with the wind”; and, as we know, this 
expression ( vayogatah) 73 is the same as “unified” {e\o bhutva), both of 
these being common ways in Indian literature of saying “dead.” 

It must be realized, however, that there are many deaths, of which that 
death in due course after which one is laid on the pyre is only one 

72 Pravisya vayau mrtva n na mrcchanti, tasmad eva punar adiranti: one of the 
finest of the Indian texts on death and regeneration. The regeneration of the 
Comprehensor ( evamvit ) at death, when he is “born again” of the fire (and “Ex¬ 
cept a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” John 3:3), is 
prefigured in the ritual, where, for example, inasmuch as the priest repeats the 
whole of the hymns, “he brings to birth (pra janayati ) the sacrifices who is now 
an embryo, from the Sacrifice as womb," AB vi.9, the Sacrifice itself being identi¬ 
fied with the Gale, ibid., v.33. 

73 Vayogatah, accordingly, presumes the fulfillment of the wish so poignantly 
expressed in the Vedic requiems x.14.8 and 16.3, hityavadyam punar astam ehi, sam 
gacchasva tanvd suvarca . . . gacchatu vatam atma, “All the accursed (evil) struck 
away, go home again, be constituted in a body of glory. . . . Fare thy spirit to the 
Gale.” 

302 


SOME PALI WORDS 

amongst many others. All change is a dying, and at the same time in¬ 
volves the birth of a new man (who may be 'better or worse than the old, 
but in our contexts which are concerned with true Wayfarers, is always 
a better man), 74 as is explicit in S 11.95, where “will, thought, discrimina¬ 
tion (citta, mana, vihnana), all this arises as one and is destroyed as an¬ 
other, every night and every day,” and A 11.82, where with reference to 
a change of occupation and status, a man is said to “die to the one and 
be born to such another” ( tato cuto itthattam dgacchati )."’’ 5 It is from 
the same point of view that the application of nibbuto and parinibbuto 
to still-living human beings must be understood. The Mahasambodhi as 
a nibbana is the death of the Bodhisattva, and the birth of a Buddha, the 
Wake, 78 and similarly in the case of others spoken of as nibbuto or even 
parinibbuto''' here and now. 

Parinibbdyati thus implies not merely the death of a self, but like all 
deaths whatever, the bringing to birth 78 or making-become ( bhdvand ) of 

74 M 1.388-90, however, deals with the case of the man who “goes to the clogs.” 

75 Cf. Augustine, Contra Max., “all change is a kind of death.” What is cited 
above from S and A is stated in almost identical terms by Plato in the Symposium, 
and by Eckhart, “The soul’s progression is matter, wherein she puts on new forms 
and puts off old ones: the one she doffs she dies to, and the one she dons she 
lives in” (Pfeiffer cd., p. 530), like BG 11.22 and BU iv.4.4, but no more than 
either of these a doctrine of "reincarnation." 

The formula expressing change of occupation is identical with that in which 
the Buddha’s descent from the Tusita heaven is stated, D 111.146, so tato cuto 
itthattam dgato (where it may be further remarked that itthattam dgato is tanta¬ 
mount to tathagata); and it is in the same terms that a series of rebirths is de¬ 
scribed, c.g., DhA iv.51 tato cuta sctthikulc nibratta. 

70 In the same way ordination, in many respects analogous to initiation, is a 
“birth" (therefore also a “death” of the layman as such), as in M 11.103, where 
we have (1) yato . . . jato, “from the day I was born" and (2) yato . . . ariyaya 
jatiya jato, "from the day of my birth in the Noble Race,” i.e., as a Sakyaputta, a 
"Buddha’s son,” birth in this sense being a filiation. To be awakened is the same 
as to come into being, RV passim, especially in connection with Agni ( usar-budh ). 
“Wake” in the sense "to be born” may be noted in Widsith, line 5, and we can 
still speak of “waking to the light of day” in this sense [see Widsith, ed. Kemp 
Malone, London, 1936— ed.]. 

" E.g., A 11.155, which distinguishes those who arc parinibbuto "here and now, 
before our very eyes” ( ditth'eva dhamme) and those who are parinibbuto only 
at death” ( \ayassa bheda). These two parinibbanas are again subdivided according 
to whether they are attained “with means” (sasanphara sasamsharana) or with¬ 
out, this depending on whether the pupil’s powers ( sepha-balani ) arc "dull” (mu- 
dutta) or “superabundantly manifested” ( adhimattdni patubhavanti). 

This sense of bhit (causative) is explicit in AA 11.5 humaram . . . bhavayati. 
In many other contexts bhu (causative) has the creative significance of ma, and 
similarly where it means to "evoke” a mental image. 

303 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


SOME PALI WORDS 


another self. Every step on the Way uses a “dead self,” now seen to be 
“not mine, not I,” as a rung or stepping stone, and it is thus that the Way¬ 
farer’s very Self would come into being ( bhusnur-atmd , AB vii.15), and 
is more and more clearly revealed ( 'avistaram-atma , AA n.3.2): the final 
product, “when all has been done that was to be done” (\ata\icco, \atam 
karaniyam, passim-, \rta\rtyah in AA 11.5 and MU vx.30), 79 being the 
Spirit all-in-being, a finished and perfected Self ( bhavitatta, passim-, 
krtatman as in CU vm.13) 80 Parinibbayati in this sense of “bringing to 
perfection” occurs repeatedly in the striking text M 1.446, where the word 
is used in connection with each of the ten stages of the training of a noble 
stallion (and it should not be overlooked that the Almsman whose lower 
self has been brought under complete control [ atta sudanto \ is often com¬ 
pared to a well-trained steed). What we have wished to bring out, then, 
is that parinibbuto in the sense of “dead” has not the limiting value that 
is commonly attached to this word, 81 but also implies “regenerate.” Pari¬ 
nibbuto has both of the values that inhere in the word “finished,” which 
can mean cither “dead” (as in the expression, “that was his finish”) or 
“brought to perfection” (in the sense that we speak of a “finished prod- 

• 9 AA 11.5 i/tma \rta\rtyo vayogatah praiti . . . prayann eva punar jay ate, “the 
spirit, all in act, enters in to the Gale and departs, and departing, is regenerated”: 
MU vi.30 \rta\rtyo . , , sauram dvaram bhitva, etc., "all in act, he breaks through 
the Sundoor, and follows the path of that one of the solar rays that pierces through 
the Orb and continues beyond the Brahma world, whereby men attain the highest 
goal.” 

80 Krtatma brahmalopam abhisambhavami, the “answer” to Sn 508, \cn' attana 
gacchati brahmalopam. 

81 A limiting value that can only be attached to the event of death by those who 
see anattani attanam, “their self in what is not their self.” These must fear death 
and must grieve, both for their own loss, and for the deceased, who “is no more.” 
It is precisely the same kind of grief that is felt by the profane when a religious 
"leaves the world” or is initiated, which events arc also deaths, cf. JUB ni.8.1. On 
the other hand, funeral rites in a traditional society are occasions, not of grief, 
but of rejoicing: cf. D 11.161, where at the Buddha’s decease he is honored as kings 
are honored “with dancing, singing, and instrumental music.” Z. L. C. was at one 
time living near the Burning Ghat in Benares; she saw many funeral processions 
and observed that the “mourners’ ” faces were radiant. Only once she saw an old 
man weeping bitterly as he followed the corpse. On pointing this out to her old 
woman servant, the latter replied with scorn, “He is only an ignorant peasant” 
(or as the Buddhist would have expressed it, an assuta puthujjana\ it is the “world- 
ly-minded” Devas alone that weep at the Buddha’s death, D 11.139). The tradi¬ 
tional position assumes that the deceased, as krta\rtyah, etc., is vayogatah, punar 
bhutva, udita, amrta\ the traditional way of life presupposing this as its normal 
conclusion, death being “the ablution at the conclusion of life’s ritual,” as in CU 
m.17.5. 


uc t”). 82 We need hardly say that all perfection and all peace imply in 
this way the death of whatever had been imperfect or not at peace; 83 all 
motion ends when it attains the goal to which it was directed; Death is 
the “Ender” ( anta\a ), but also the solar Eros, the Great Spirit ( mahat- 
man) who welcomes the perfected at World’s End. Parinibbuto, literally 
“despirated,” is thus “finished” in both senses of the word; and it is only 
if we realize this that we can fully understand why the faithful Buddhist, 
when he sees the Buddha’s tomb (thupa), is moved not by sorrow, but 
with the “thrill” {samvejana) of understanding, and exclaims trium¬ 
phantly, “Here the Tathagata was altogether finished ( parinibbuto) with 
that attainment of despiration ( nibbana ) that is without residuum of 
assumption.” 

nettiya. Bhava-nettiya is not, as it has been rendered at least once, “the 
Eye of Existence,” but conduits of existence (or becoming, birth). Just 
as in M 11.105, etc., udakam hi nayanti netti\d, “irrigators (makers of 
channels, or ‘leads’ for the water) conduct the water.” Bhava-netti is cor¬ 
rectly explained in the Dictionary as “leader to renewed existence.” But 
at SA 11.336, cf. DA 127, etc., it is explained as rajju, “cord”: bhava-rajju 
being the cord that tics one to becoming or renewed existence. Similarly 
at AA 111.2, where it is explicitly stated that this rajju = netti is the cord 
“by which beings like cattle tied by the neck, are led to such and such an 
existence.” The Tathagata is the cutter of this netti, D 1.46, which is the 
thirst for existence (DA 128), and so the cord that leads to it until cut. 

82 “Finished" in these two senses provides us with the reason {ratio) of the 
well-known superstition of the “evil eye.” For only that which is imperfect, un¬ 
finished {aparinibbuto) is still "alive": to recognize that a thing is perfect is as 
much as to say that it is a finished product, no longer viable because already 
geworden was cr ist, already come to its “end.” For this reason (of which he may 
be quite unaware) the craftsman often leaves in his work some small defect, and 
for this reason that the possessor of a beautiful object does not like to hear it 
unduly praised, and will even give it away to the thoughtless admirer; or if it 
can not be given away, takes steps to "avert” the evil eye. We can also see why the 
“evil eye” does not necessarily imply an evil intention; the evil consequence is 
the result of what is usually an inadvertent imputation of “finish” in the sinister 
sense. And as usual, the superstition or “standover” is only really such when its 
reason has been forgotten: the superstition of the evil eye corresponds to what may 
have been a matter of fact in a society more sensitive than ours to the direct effects 
of mental acts, whether expressed or not expressed in words. 

S3 Santa, “at peace,” Skr. santi, “peace,” from sain, always in sacrificial contexts 
to give the quietus,” to slake, to kill It should not be overlooked that the victim 
m these contexts is always, in the last analysis, the sacrificer himself, whose ritual 
death prefigures his final “rest.” 


304 


305 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


SOME PALI WORDS 


Cf. Itiv, p. 94, netticchinna bhi\\hu, he who has cut the netti, and for 
whom there is no renewed existence, thirst, or craving, tanhd, being got 
rid of, UdA 272. We never meet with the expression bhaua-ca\\hu (only 
mamsa-cakj{hu) ; and the Pali nett a — netra is more often “that which 
leads,” e.g., “reins” ( nettani , S 1.26), than literally “eye,” which in any 
case is a secondary and not a primary meaning of the word. 

pacchi. In {ilanja-pacchi , J vi.370, rush-for^e/r,” not, as translated by 
Cowell and Rouse, “rolls of matting.” The baskets of J vi.370, with their 
lids, are clearly shown at Bharhut, Cunningham pi. 25, fig. 3. The Dic¬ 
tionary thinks the etymology “doubtful,” but the root is surely pracchad, 
to cover, envelop, conceal. 

pddavdra and padacchida. DhA 111.216 describes the Buddha’s ascent to 
the Heaven of the Thirty-three, from Savatthi. “He lifted up his right 
foot and set it down on the summit of Mt. Yugandhara, then he lifted 
up his left foot and set it down on the summit of Mt. Sineru (Meru), and 
thus in just three stands ( tayo va pddavdra) and two strides (dve pd- 
dacchidani ), he traversed sixty-eight hundred thousand leagues,” and 
there seated himself on Indra's golden throne. Burlingame’s version, “in 
three strides, setting foot on earth but twice,” reverses the proper mean¬ 
ings of the two words in question, and is at the same time unintelligible. 
Pddavdra is the pause in walking, when both feet are brought together; 
there are three such “stands,” first at Savatthi, second on Yugandhara, 
and third on Sineru. Padacchida is, as the word itself implies, the “separa¬ 
tion of the feet” in striding: the word corresponds to padacchedana, pa- 
dabhdjana , and padavibhaga, denoting the analysis of verse to form a 
pada text, the converse of padasamsagga, padasamdhi implying the con¬ 
junction of the words and corresponding to pddavdra. Not only does the 
corrected rendering make sense, but it enables us to recognize the cor¬ 
respondence of the Buddha’s two with the first two of Visnu’s three 
strides; the summit reached by the Buddha on this occasion is solar, like 
that which he assumes on Mt. Grdrakuta, not supra-solar, the Heaven of 
the Thirty-three over which the solar Indra presides being neither a 
Brahmaloka nor an aspect of Nibbana. 

Pddavdra and padavara occur also in J 1.213 and 506: in the latter 
context it is especially clear that a pause is implied, the description being 
of a deliberate walk “as though at every step ( padavare padavare) he were 
putting down a bag of a thousand pieces of gold”—which could not be 
done without pausing. It may be pointed out that it is, in fact, always -with 

306 


one foot that a stride is taken, the other being left behind during motion. 
In the Bharhut relief (Cunningham, pi. 17, center) representing the sub¬ 
sequent descent at Samkassa, we therefore see on the topmost rung of 
the ladder one foot, and on its lowest rung the other: the descent is made 
in a single stride; we have the actual picture of a padacchida. It is in the 
same way that the Sun has regularly “one foot” or ray with which he 
walks and thus reaches every creature upon whom he bestows its being, 
RV etc., passim, but the feet of Death (who is also the Sun), thought of 
as planted in the heart ( hrdaye pddav atihatau, SB x.5.2.13) are two, “and 
when he separates them, he departs ( dchidyot\ramati )”: where dchidya 
is rather “separating” than Eggeling’s “cuts off,” since it is actually a 
padacchida that takes place at death, when the spirit “strides away ( ut\rd - 
mati)," or as in BU iv.4.3, where “this spirit, striking down the body 
and dismissing ignorance, striding another stride {anyam apramam d\ra- 
mya), draws itself together,” i.e., enters into its source, returns to itself, 
dpramya again implying a padacchida. 

The SB text continues, “and when he (Death, the Person in the solar 
Orb) ascends {ut\rdmati), this person (in the right eye) dies. Hence 
they call the former {etad) the ‘departed’ ( pretam ), and say of the latter 
{asya) ‘It has been cut off’ {achedi)." M The preta is the immanent atm an, 
the “ghost” that the man “gives up” when he “expires,” “that other self 
of his” that having done its work “departs” or “proceeds” ( praiti ) when 
the time comes (AA 11.5), while the psycho-physical manifestation is left 
behind, just as one foot is left behind in striding. 85 

It should be noted that paduka in Pali is always “slipper,” and is not 

84 Eggeling’s version is insufficiently literal, ignoring the distinction of “former” 
and “latter.” 

85 It is in just the same way that in the introductory sacrifice ( prdyaniya ), the 
sacrificer (who has just undergone the ritual death of initiation) “proceeds {praiti, 
AB 1,7)” to the world of heaven—leaving behind him, of course, the human self 
to which he will only return (as from the truth to what is false) when the opera¬ 
tion is abandoned, and he formally desecrates himself (SB 1.9.3.23 with VS 1.5, 
AB vii.24, cf. SB m.9.4.2), the human self that he sacrifices in the rite (as alma- 
yajni) so as 10 be “emptied” of self (SB 111.8.1.2). What is thus ‘left” behind is ail 
“hi in the sense of JB 111.77 (yad ahiyata tad a/iinam a/iitvam); cf. PB xn.ll.ll, 
where Kalyaria is “left behind, for he had told a lie” (as men do, but the gods do 
not, passim) and becomes a svitra, i.e., ahi. 

Preta is then, at least originally and properly, the immanent deity, the “ghost,” 
Le > Sanctus Spiritus, that a man “gives up” when he “expires {apanati, ucchvdsati, 
etc -)-” If preta (and especially Buddhist peta) comes to mean also “ghost” in a 
much lower sense, it is in the same way that Yaksa, originally = Brahman, Atman, 
Daimon can become also “demon,” and that “spirit” can refer to such all-too-human 
entities as those with which the “spiritualist” concerns himself. 

307 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

a proper term to be applied to the footprints as represented in art. We 
find in the literature only pada or pada for “footprint” as well as for 
“foot”; for example, in M 1.175 If. and S 1.86, tathdgatapada and hatthi-pada 
are “Buddha’s footprint” and “elephant’s footprint.” The expression pada- 
valanja occurs in DhA in.194, and the “foot-trace” left by the Buddha is 
referred to as a pada-cetiya; this last is clearly the term that should be used 
in iconographic descriptions. 

pabbahati. In the Dictionary, s.v. pabdhati, Skr. prabarh, pravrh, as in 
KU 11.13, pravrhya ( anum ). Pabbaheyya and pabbdlhd (v.l., pavdlha) 
occur in M 11.17, meaning “might draw forth” and “drawn forth.” The 
Dictionary reference of pavdlha to pravrh is certainly correct, for the Pali 
munjamha islpam pabbaheyya corresponds exactly to muhjad isi\dm 
vivrhet in JB 11.134 and similar contexts. The metaphor is repeated in 
D 1.77. The Pali versions show clearly that the real meaning is not so 
much “might draw the reed from its sheath” as “draw the arrow from 
the reed”; if the isi\d had not been thought of as “arrow,” there would 
have been no point in the words anno muhjo anna isipd. It is plain that 
when the fletcher goes to the muhja marshes to gather shafts, he pulls 
them from the plants which are left in place, and that what he pulls 
out is for him the “arrow” and what is left the “plant.” The metaphor 
applies in the Pali contexts to the drawing out of a supernatural body 
from this mortal body; 86 cf. 8B jv.3.3.16. 

pasa. In J m.282, Francis and Neil misrender pase vijjhitvd by “which 
pierced dice”; the Bodhisatta, however, is the subject of vijjhitvd, and 
sucim its object; the meaning is “perforated with an eye.” Supdsiyam 
and supdsam below mean “having a well-made eye.” 

That pasa (Skr. pasa) can mean “needle’s eye” is of double interest. 
In the first place, pasa is essentially “loop,” and as such “noose,” etc. The 
application of a word meaning “loop” to the eye of a needle suggests a 
period when the first metal needles were made of wire with one end 
bent over to form a “loop” or “eye.” And in the second place, because the 
“eye of the needle” (and such a needle in particular as the Bodhisatta 
makes in the Jdtapa, “it cannot be told how, but only that the purposes of 
the Buddhas succeed [ijjhanti]") is a recognized aspect of the Janua Coeli, 

86 In these contexts ifi\a is no more “reed” (the plant) than asi (sword) is \osi 
(scabbard), or ahi (snake) is karanda (slough). 


SOME PALI WORDS 

Sundoor and “narrow gate,” and pasa being also “noose” (in the hands 
of Mrtyu, Yama, and Varuna), we realize that the loop of Death’s lasso 
is still another aspect of the Gate, and that to slip through the noose 
without its tightening upon you is the same as to have passed through 
the jaws of Death without their closing upon you, just as the “threading 
of the needle” is the passage of the Sundoor in the symbolism of em¬ 
broidery. 

So far, of course, with reference to the “last death of the soul,” in which 
the “threading of the needle” is the passage of the Sundoor. To pass 
through the needle’s eye (cf. Dante, Purgatorio x.16) or to evade the 
noose can also be used with reference to any passage, all passages im¬ 
plying change, and all change a dying (to what was before). We are 
concerned here only with the general symbolic equivalence of the eye of 
the needle and loop of the noose. 

pindi\a. In J vi.376 it must be the globular termination or finial of the 
handle of the umbrella, pinda being a lump, ball. This is supported by 
the facts that Skr. pinda\a is cited from a lexikon as “nave of a wheel,” 
and also as a “round swelling or protuberance,” and that in the Aupapa- 
ti\a Sutra, §16, pindiya corresponds to usnisa in its later sense of “cranial 
protuberance.” Cf. sahjia. 

beluva (-pandu-vina). The Dictionary has “flute” (twice), but this is 
only a misprint for “lute.” S.v. vina, the Dictionary has “lute, mandoline 
. . . lyre.” The vina of the text is, however, a postless harp. For this and 
the Pali names for other parts and appurtenances of the harp, see Coo- 
maraswamy, “The Parts of a vina" in JAOS, LVII (1937), with further 
references. The Dictionary in particular misrenders kona, which is not 
“bow” but “plectrum.” 

bhu. The following discussion is by no means to be taken as an argu¬ 
ment against the general position taken by C.A.F. Rhys Davids in To 
Become or Not To Become (London, 1937); I am in agreement with 
this position. The discussion is solely with reference to the meaning of 
the future form bhavissati in A 11.37, where the Brahman Dona finds the 
Buddha’s wheel-marked footprints and, as he looks at them, says to him¬ 
self, “It 

cannot be that these are the footprints of a human being.” It 

309 


308 



MAJOR ESSAYS 

is not denied that na bhavissati, although future in form, has here the 
conjectural value “cannot be, ’ with reference to the present fact, and not 
to any future becoming; that the footprints are surely not those of a man 
is the point. Before going further it may be remarked that there is no 
dispute that the future form of bhu can have this gnomic value in Pali; 
of countless examples, not to mention those given by Rhys Davids herself, 
I cite only J vi.364, “your name must be Amara {tvam amara. nama bha¬ 
vissati)” certainly with reference to present fact; and ] vi.365, udakam 
na laddham bhavissati, “It must be that you did not get water,” i.e., at 
the time when it was needed for the crops. We find the same usage in 
Sanskrit already in RV 1.164.39, \im red karisyati, “What will he do 
with the verse?” i.e., what use is it to him. 

So far so good. But in the following context of A 11.38, F. L. Woodward 
and Rhys Davids {To Become or Not To Become, p. 99) have insisted 
upon rendering manusso ... bhavissati by “will become a human being?” 
and na . . . manusso bhavissdmi by “I shall not become a human being,” 
with specific reference to the future. This is insisted upon in spite of the 
fact that the Buddha concludes his remarks by saying that all those con¬ 
ditions according to which he might have been a man (or deva, gandhab- 
ba, yakjtha, etc.) have been killed, “so that I am the Wake {tasrnd bud- 
dho'smi) It is in just the same way that at Mil 346 we find bhavissati and 
atthi used synonymously in one and the same connection, and both mean¬ 
ing “must surely be” or “assuredly is.” It may also be observed that in 
J v.317, where a similar question is put to Nanda, he replies that he is, or 
literally “has become,” a man {manussa-bhuto). 

In our disputed context we have, first, a future with an admittedly 
present conjectural value; then a series of futures with disputed value; 
and finally a pronouncement definitely in the present, with respect to 
the questions and answers that intervene. We cannot but think that our 
authors force the future sense only because of their extreme unwilling¬ 
ness to allow the Buddha to say of himself, “I am not a man, or god, or 
eros, or daimon.” It is true that in innumerable contexts of the Nikayas it 
is explicit that a Buddha or Arhat is emancipated from being in any given 
way, is nameless, cannot be reached or understood, and so forth; but 
all these our authors would reject as interpolations or developments. To 
me the texts appear to be self-consistent; for me the “higher criticism” of 
these' texts amounts to a dangerous reading out of them whatever does 
not seem to us suitable or true. I take the texts as they stand. But it would 
seem to be far better to call our passage an interpolation than to trans¬ 


SOME PALI WORDS 

late it in plain contradiction of the syntax. The Buddha is asked “What 
are thou?” and answers “I am not any what,” that is, essentially, as in 
Sn 455^56 kpci no’mhi . . . akimeano . . . car ami lo\e . . . akalla mam 
pucchi gotta-pahham. 

rasa. We shall see that vyahjana is distinguished from attha very much 
as flavor is distinguished from food. In one Ni\dya text the word rasa 
actually takes the place which is usually taken by vyahjana: this is 
A 1.36, where “those who get the flavor of the meaning” is attha-rasassa 
labhino, and here we can hardly fail to remark that rasa is used 
essentially as it is in the later rhetoric. The earlier history of the word rasa 
needs fuller treatment in a separate article, but we do wish to suggest 
that even in other than, and older than, Alamf(ara contexts, and even 
when the reference is to Deity {so vai rasa), the word should be rendered 
in most cases by “flavor” rather than by “essence.” The word “essence” 
is needed in its proper sense for such terms as bhutata (“being,” in prin¬ 
ciple; for atthitd we should prefer to say “existence,” distinguishing esse 
from essentia vel quidditas, i.e., “being in itself” from iti-bhavdbhava, 
TO ov from to ^atvopevov). On the other hand, to speak of the “flavor” of 
knowledge, or of “digesting an idea” (or “assimilation” = adacquatio 
rei et intellects), or even of “tasting God” (“O taste and see that the 
Lord is good”) is by no means foreign to the genius of European lan¬ 
guages, Latin sapientia being etymologically a “tastiness,” and as St. 
Thomas Aquinas expresses it, “Quasi sapida scicntia, seu scientia cum 
sapore (Pali savyahjanam\), id est cognitio cum amore (Pali piti\),” Sum. 
Theol., 1.43.5, an d n-n.45.2-3 with further references. 87 

The attha-rasassa labhi of our text will be, of course, the “Great Self,” 
not the “little self” of A 1.249, the “Fair Self” and not the “foul self” of A 
1.149: just as in AV x.8.44 it is the “Immortal, Contemplative Self,” the 
Spirit that is, that is “delighted by the flavor” {rasena trptah). The flavor, 
in other words, is the “immortal” part of the meaning: and just as in the 
later rhetoric {Sahitya Darpana m.2-3) the “tasting of the flavor” {ra- 

s ' Cf. Ibn al-‘Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq (ed. R. A. Nicholson, London, 1911) 
xxv,4, and his own commentary, where “the saliva in which I tasted white honey” 
stands for the “sciences of communion and converse and speech which leave a 
delicious taste in the heart.” 

The mention of honey here reflects the traditional symbolism of bees and honey, 
where “honey” is the knowledge of things sub specie aeternitatis, and in fact that 
nectar” {amrta) of which the gods partake and in virtue of which they are “Im¬ 
mortals” {amrtasah). 


310 


311 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


sasvadana) is called the cognate of the “tasting of Brahman” ( brahmdsvd - 
dona), so here it can be said with Augustine that “even we ourselves as 
mentally tasting something eternal, are not in this world” (De Trinitate 
iv.20). 

le\hani. Pencil, crayon, brush, 88 or any pointed tool used in carving 
wood or ivory; never “stencil," as also given in the PTS Dictionary. In 
A 11.200, where the making of a dug-out canoe from a tree is described, 
the le\ha;i is the most delicate of the three tools used before the polish¬ 
ing is done. The log is “hewn with axes,” or perhaps “adzes” ({utharihi 
tacchetva), ‘cut with chisels ( vasihi tacchetva)” “graven with the ‘spear- 
point (lehjianiyd hkhitva ),” and finally “smoothed with a round pebble 
( pasdnagulena dhopetva).” We render lefyhani by “spear-point,” the tech¬ 
nical name of a certain wood-turner’s tool, bearing in mind that one of 
the meanings of li\h is to “turn” (wood or ivory), 89 and because in the 
present case, although there is no question of turning, something like a 
wood-engraver’s pointed tool must be meant; and li\hitvd by “graven” 
in the sense of “graven” image. Le\haniya likliitva might also mean 
carved ’ in the sense of decorated, but this seems unlikely in the present 
context, where the “graving” is preparatory to smoothing. It is probable 
that metal tools are implied at this period, but the process described must 
have come down from prehistoric times, when the same or similar terms 
could have denoted stone tools. There remains a further and perhaps even 
more plausible alternative, according to which lekhamyd li\hitvd would 
mean painted with a paintbrush”: that a polishing with an “agate burn¬ 
isher” should follow this would be quite intelligible. 

vatra. “Vrtra”: J v.153 mdo vatrabhu ... sa\ko\ S 1.47, vatra-bhu. 

vaddhamana. I accept Dr. Johnson’s argument ( JRAS , 1932, pp. 392-98, 
and 1933, p. 690) to the effect that the three-pointed symbol sometimes 
called trisula or tnratna in early Buddhist art has properly been referred 
to as the vardhamdna.” It is perhaps only by chance that we do not find 
any reference to the symbol in Pali literature, and hence no occurrence of 
the word vaddhamana with reference to a symbol. The word occurs in 
early Jaina literature as the name of a symbol. As regards the word in 

88 For these senses at a later period see Technical Studies, III (1934), 71, 74- 
Lt\h occurs in Pali in the senses of draw, write, carve, turn; le\hani as pencil or 
brush in Mhv. 

89 Cf. JAOS, XLVIII, 263-64. 


312 


SOME PALI WORDS 


other senses, and primarily those of the root meaning (“increase”), it 
is curious that the Dictionary, s.v., equates vaddhamana in Dpv xi.33 
with vaddhana in Mhv xxm.33, overlooking that vaddhamana itself oc¬ 
curs in the very next verse of the text in a sense explained in the Dic¬ 
tionary, s.v. vaddhati. The word occurs also in Mhv xi.30, where vaddha- 
manam \umdri\am is “a girl in the bloom of her youth” (Geiger, or as 
I should prefer to say, “a still growing girl”). There is also a Pali vaddha- 
ni\a meaning a dish from which food is served, and this explains the later 
Jaina vaddhamanaga in the sense of “auspicious vessel” (distinct from 


punna-ghata). 


vitamsa. I fail to see why the proposed etymology (vi tan) is “not clear”: 
the meaning is “snare” (for birds): it is proverbially “in vain that the 
net is spread in the sight of any bird”; the Old Testament abounds in 
references to the spreading of nets and snares; and for illustrations of 
outspread snares, see MFA Bulletin, No. 210, pp. 50-53. 


vyahjana (contrasted with attha). Before we discuss these terms in the 
Pali contexts, we must assume the meaning of attha in relation to 
dhamma discussed above, s.v. attha = art ha. It will also be advisable to 
consider the meaning of vyahjana in pre- and post-Pali contexts in order 
to put the question (of considerable interest from the point of view of 
the history of Indian rhetoric) whether or not Pali vyahjana has really 
a meaning contradictory of its meaning in these pre- and post-Pali con¬ 
texts. The primary sense of the root ( vyahj ) is to “anoint,” and hence to 
“adorn,” “flavor” (drink, food), and “illustrate” or “manifest.” For the 
first three of these values in RV, cf. Grassmann’s Worterbuch, s.v. ahj. 
Vyahjana (n.) is “adornment” in RV vm.78.2. In the later rhetoric, three 
kinds of meaning ( artha ) of a proposition ( vacakam) are distinguished, 
viz. abhidha, la\sana, and vyahjana, respectively literal, figurative, and 
parabolical ( Sahitya Darpana, 11.3 etc.), the latter coinciding with what 
is called the “flavor (rasa)” of a poetical text defined as a “statement 
(having the letter for its body and) flavor as its informing spirit (kdvyam 
rasatmakam vd\yam)T 

On the other hand, the PTS Dictionary has under Vyahjana, “Letter 
(of a word) as opposed to attha (meaning, sense, spirit),” and under 
Savyahjana only “with the letters.” 90 Most of the translators render, ac- 

90 It would be difficult to reconcile this with S 11.51, where it is asked, "Have you 
declared Arahatta {laya ahha vyd\ata), viz. \hina jati . . . ndparam itthattayaV’ 


313 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


SOME PALI WORDS 


cordingly, attha as “spirit” and vyanjana as “letter.” 31 If this could be 
justified we should be faced with the curious phenomenon of a temporary 
reversal of the basic meanings of the word vyanjana. We have shown, s.v. 
attha, that the meaning of attha is anything but “spirit.” 

We propose to discuss the word in its Pali contexts, beginning with the 
simplest and leading up to the more difficult. In J vi.366, Amara Devi is 
preparing a rice pudding with milk, and “adds suitable flavoring” ( tada- 
nurupam vyanjanam sampadetva). When the Bodhisatta closes his teeth 
on her “flavored pudding” (savyanjanam yagum adasi), his sense of taste 
is thrilled ( rasa-haraniyo ). 

In Vin 1.40 an inquirer asks, “What does the Master teach?" The dis¬ 
ciple answers, “I am not able to set forth the doctrine to you at length 
(1 vittharena dhammam desetum), but I can tell you its purport briefly 
( sam\hittena attham vak\hamt) The questioner replies, “Whether you 
say little or much, tell me in any case the purport ( attham yeva me bruhi) 
—in accordance with its intention, I mean ( atthen'eva me attho) —why 
should you make a great elaboration (/< im \dhasi vyanjanam bahum )?” 
The answer is the following “doctrinal formula {dhamma-pariyayam )": 
“Of all things that are of causal origin, the Tathagata has told the cause, 
and so too has the Great Monk proclaimed their suppression” (the well- 
known “Buddhist confession” which is found as an inscription on so 
many examples of Buddhist art, as if this were the essence of their mes¬ 
sage). There is no question of “spirit and letter” here: what the inquirer 

The answer is that this meaning (attha) was not stated “In these very words 
(etchi padehi) or with these very trappings (etehi vyahjanehi).” The Buddha re¬ 
sponds by saying that by whatever “alternative formula ( panydya , paraphrase, 
circumlocution)” anna has been declared, one must take it as having been de¬ 
clared. 

It may be noted incidentally that Pali vyatta = Skr. vyafita (pp. of try ad j), and 
its opposite avyatta are applied to persons, not to statements, as if one should 
speak of an “explicit, or inexplicit speaker” rather than of "explicit, or inexplicit 
speech”; that vyanjayati (to “characterize,” etc.) occurs only in Commentaries; 
and that the quite different word vydfiaroti is rather to "state or propound” than 
to “explain.” 

91 So, I think always, in the PTS translations by C.A.F. Rhys Davids and F. L. 
Woodward. The SBE version of the Mahdvagga by T. W. Rhys Davids and H. 
Oldenberg is inconsistent: at Vin 1.40-41 (Mhv 1.23.4-9), attha is rendered by 
“spirit” and vyanjana by “letter,” but 1.358 (x.6.2) attha is rendered by “letter” and 
vyanjana by “spirit.” 

In the last context (text) for atthupeta ca vyanjanupetd ca read atthupetdvyanja- 
nupeta, i.e., atthupeta-avyanjanupeta: the contrast is with atthupeta ca vyanjanupetd 
ca. 


really wants to know is “what he must do to be saved.” In terms of the 
preceding reference, he is hungry and wants primarily food, not caring 
whether it be “seasoned” or “elaborated.” Attham is here the application, 
or immediate bearing of the doctrine; vyanjanam its “flavor,” and the 
same as that attha-rasa that is tasted only by the few (A 1.36). 92 

In A 11.160 where we have, “when the analytical factors of the meaning 
(, attha-patisambhiday 3 have been verified (sacchikatva) 94 both as regards 

92 Even briefer is the Buddha’s enunciation of \ammavdda in the two words 
patisamuppannam dukj(ham, with respect to which Ananda exclaims, “It is mar¬ 
velous, how this whole matter has been stated in a single phrase (ekena padena )! 
Had it been set forth at length, it would have been seen to be deep (gambhlro) 
in fact as well as in seeming!” 

“For the four patisambhidd see the PTS Dictionary, s.v. The four are attha, 
dhamma, nirutti (= hermcncia), patibhana (“illumination,” a meaning given in the 
Dictionary (cf. S 1.187 al 'd Kindred Sayings [= S], Vol. I, p. 237), in connection with 
which it may be noted that pratibhd in the sense to "flash upon the mind” is hardly 
“late” Skr., since it occurs in the Upanisads). The four meanings would seem to 
be moral, literal, hermeneutic, and anagogic or parabolical. They are often men¬ 
tioned in connection with and as if necessary to the attainment of Arahatta, in 
the formula saha patisambhiddhi arahattam papunati, Mil 18, etc. Cf. Dh 352, 
nirutti-pada-kpvido, akkharanam sannipatam jannd pubbaparani ca, sa ve antima- 
sariro, mahapahno, mahdpuriso ti vuccati. Here there is an unmistakable recogni¬ 
tion of the spiritual value of semantic and grammatical scholarship; but it must be 
remembered that these sciences cannot be exactly identified with their modern 
“equivalents,” nirufita being much rather “hermeneia" than “etymology” in our 
sense. 

The students will find it profitable to compare with, this the four meanings, 
literal, moral, allegorical, and parabolical, in Scholastic Christian exegesis, as defined, 
e.g., in St. Thomas Aquinas, Sum. Theol. 1.1.10. Most important and of universal 
application is the proposition that “the parabolical meaning is contained in the 
literal.” For this reason it is very necessary not only to have understood the precise 
meaning of the Pali symbols, but also to translate them literally (ipsae res signifi- 
catae per voces etiam significant aliquid). 

94 We suggest the use of “verify” for Pali sacchifiaroti and “verification” for 
sacchikiriya (the so-called “Act of Truth”). Cf. our expression, “to make a thing 
come true.” It should be noted, however, that from the Indian point of view, the 
possibility of this depends upon truth in the agent, cf. J 1.214 bodhisalto ■ ■ . saccasa- 
bhavam arabbha sacca\iriyam \aronto. In other contexts we find that “realization” 
is expressed by the phrase yoniso manasikhra, “an original act of intellect.” 

The use of sacchikaroti in the full sense of the words “hear and understand” 
may be noted in D 1.150, where the Buddha, “as being one who has verified it by 
his own extra-generic gnosis ( sayam abhinna sacchikatva) promulgates the Law 
and preaches it, lovely in its beginning, in its middle and in its end, both in its 
moral and in its spiritual significance ( sattham savyanjanam)”-. and DhA 111.361, 
where sakkaccan na sunanti is literally “do not hear with verification,” i.e., hear 
but do not learn. 

The same is expected of others: “Whatever Monk or Brahman here and now, 


314 


315 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


SOME PALI WORDS 


what is laid down (odhiso) and what is elaborated (vyanjanaso), I then 
explain them by many alternative formulae, teach and illuminate them, 
make them comprehensible, open them up, dissect and spread them out 
( aneka-pariyayena dcil{\hdmi, dcsemi, pa\dsemi, pahnapemi, vivarami, 
vibhajdmi, uttdrii-karomi).” 95 Odhiso here can only refer to the immedi¬ 
ate meaning of the text: odhi deriving from odahati, Skr. avadhd , to “set 
down,” analogous to abhidhd, the “literal power” of an expression, or 
“denotation.” It is just in this sense, indeed, that the text itself is a “foot¬ 
print (pada)," a trace set down and that can be followed up, in the sense 
of RV x.71.3 vac ah padaviyam ay an, and of the "hatthi-pada" in Pali, 
passim. Odhi is thus also, like its Sanskrit equivalent avadhi, the object to 
which the mind is directed, and being thus equivalent to the primary 
meaning of the text, vyanjanam can only be the expanded meaning im¬ 
plied by the phrases concluding with uttani-/{aromi. Odhi referring to 
the actual wording corresponds to desanam , “promulgation”; vacanam, 
“utterance”; akhyanam, “narrative”; kfithitam, “relation”; padam, “verse,” 
etc. Odhi refers to the “aesthetic surface” of the doctrine, and in this 
connection it may be pointed out that what is said in words differs in no 
way in principle from what is represented in plastic art, the interpretation 
of which from cither a strictly aesthetic or a merely anecdotal point of 
view being equally superficial and insufficient: as Lan\avatara Sutra 
11.118-19 expresses it, “the real picture is not in the colors, the principle 
evades the letter.” 

We meet with the “four meanings” again in A 11.139 in connection 
with the definition of four sorts of orators (vadi), of whom the best is 
the speaker “who is not brought to a standstill either as regards the practi¬ 
cal purport (atthato) or the developed meaning ( vyanjanato ): it is im¬ 
possible for one fully possessed of the four analytical powers (patisambhi- 
da ) to be brought to a standstill in either of these respects.” 

In A 11.148 the first of four ways that conduce to the preservation of the 
“True Law (saddhamma)” is that condition which exists when the Alms¬ 
man is in full possession of a text “with well-put verses and flavorings 
(sunityhittehi pada-vyahjanehi): for, Almsmen, if the verses and their 

by his own extra-generic gnosis has verified the meaning of monasticism and 
Brahmahood, he has ‘arrived’ (sdmannatthan ca brahmannatthan ca dittheva dhatn- 
tne sayam abhinna sacchi\atva, upasampajja viharanti, S u. 46).” 

95 Similarly, S 11.28 sva\hyato . . . maya dhammo ultimo vivato pa\asito chinna- 
pilotiko, “Doctrine well taught by me, spread out, opened up, illuminated, divested 
of wrapping.” 

316 


flavoring are well put, the practical meaning is likewise easy to follow 
(attho pi sunnayo hoti)." We hark back in this version to the notion of 
cooking: considering that pada corresponds to the rice, and vyanjana to 
the sauce, and that if these are suitably combined, the intellectual nourish¬ 
ment will be readily assimilated. 

In D 111.127-28, it is said that Almsmen arc to meet together and talk 
over Doctrine, not contumaciously but “comparing moral (or literal) sense 
with moral (or literal) sense (atthena attham) and implicit meaning 
with implicit meaning ( vyanjanena vyanjanam ),” the discussion taking 
such a form as “to such and such a moral sense (imassa . . . atthassa) do 
these, or these other implicit meanings ( imam vd vyanjanani etani vd 
vyanjanani) correspond most closely?” and conversely. Here it may be 
noted how the genitives imply that the moral or literal and the spiritual 
or implicit meanings are reciprocal and inseparable; it is never a question 
of arbitrary explanations but only of an adequate symbolism, in which 
there is a contrast but never an opposition of “letter and spirit” (Islamic 
cs-shariyah and el-haqiqah). In S iv.281 and 296, nanatthd ndnavyanjand 
is clearly “different in denotation and in connotation,” e\attha in the 
same context meaning “alike in denotation.” 

In S v.430, a specifically moral theme, that of dutyha, “ill” or “sorrow,” 
is effectively the “moral meaning” with reference to which the Buddha 
says that “there are definitely various phases and illustrations thereof 
(aparimand vanna aparimand vyanjana aparimand sam\dsand) , and here 
vyanjana is certainly something like “coloring,” “disguise,” “shade of 
meaning,” a sense quite in accordance with the root meaning of vyanj, 
“to smear on.” Similarly in A 11.182, where the Buddha says that “he has 
taught that such and such a proposition is right (idam kusalam . . . maya 
pannattam), in countless verses (aparimand pada), with countless color¬ 
ings (aparimand vyanjana.) and countless enunciations of the spiritual¬ 
meaning (aparimand dhamma-desana ).” 

The most difficult text is that of Mil 18, where the Buddha’s word (bud- 
dha-vacanam) is learnt by heart at one hearing, is mastered in three 
months vyanjanato, and in another three months atthato. We should have 
expected the reverse order of words. We cannot, however, allow the ap¬ 
parent meaning of this isolated text to override that of so many others, 
and must conclude that the fully developed meaning is thought of here 
as having been grasped before the application of it was made. 

As we have remarked, in nearly all of the foregoing contexts the trans¬ 
lators render attha by “spirit” and vyanjana by “letter.” It is by no means 

317 


MAJOR ESSAYS 


SOME PALI WORDS 


our intention to suggest that the very words “letter and spirit” are out 
of place in these contexts, but we do say that if these words are used, it 
is in precisely the opposite sense, attha being the “letter” and vyanjana 
the spiritual” meaning. For we cannot employ the English words “letter 
and spirit” vaguely but only in one of two ways, either with reference to 
literal meaning” and “inner meaning” (a relation expressed in Pali by 
saying that “B is the adhivacanam, i.e., interpretation, of A”), 96 or in 
that way in which the words “letter and spirit” (or their equivalents) 
were used by St. Paul (n Cor. 3:6), from whom our use of the words de¬ 
scends. Whoever has any doubt as to the meaning of the words of St. 
Paul should consider Augustine’s treatise, De spiritu et littera. St. Paul is 
not referring to figurative expressions but to the distinction between the 
moral law and spiritual understanding, the former essential to the active 
and the latter essential to the contemplative life. It is precisely in the 
same way that attha (as we have seen) refers to things to be done, and 
vyanjana to things to be understood: it would be true to say that in our 
contexts attha and vyanjana correspond to what are called \arma-\dnda 
and jhdna \dnda in Sanskrit. In Vin 1.40, it is the fact that an injunction 
to walk in a certain Way is implicit in the formula that makes it attha 
and not vyanjana. We can see also why it is that precedence is given to 
attha-. it is just as it is for the hungry man, for whom food is the first 
consideration and flavoring the second; the flavor is better than the food, 
but not for the hungry man, who is still in need of food, without which 
he cannot “keep on going”; it is not this “little self,” the so-called attd or 
appatta, but only the “great self,” mahatta, “the immortal contemplative 
self, without desire” of AV x.8.44, that is “satisfied by flavor” only ( rasena 
trptahj. It is from the same point of view that the Buddha so often re¬ 
fuses to discuss ultimates (such as “is or is not” after death) because they 
do not pertain or conduce to Wayfaring ( maggana ). Virtue is only a 
means, indeed; it is dispositive, but not essential to the end. But “while 
we are on the way, we are not there”; virtue is essential to the Way. 
Attha is thus prior to vyanjana in practice, but inferior in hierarchy since 
when the end of the road has been reached there is no more Wayfaring 
to be done. 

98 It is in this connection that we find the Buddhist parallel of St. Paul’s “the 
letter killeth,” viz. in S 1.11, where “Men aware only of what can be told ( a\j{heyya , 
the a\\hanam, narrative or parable taken historically and literally) live under the 
yoke of death.” This will apply, of course, as much to the understanding of the 
carved or painted parable as to the spoken symbol. 


Wc have so far discussed vyanjana in what may be called its “good” 
sense, that sense in which the four patisambhida are said to be essential 
to Arahatta. There are also some contexts in which vyanjana as “orna¬ 
ment” is disparaged, for example PugA 223, where padaparamo, “whose 
ultimate is the verse itself,” is explained by vyahjanapadam eva paramam 
assa, “he for whom the verbal ornament only is the prime consideration.” 
That the reference is disparaging is clear also from A 11.135, where the 
final reward ( utthana-phalam ) is contingent upon the nature of the 
mental effort put forth; there are four classes of hearers, “those who un¬ 
derstand immediately ( ugghatitahnii ), those who understand upon 
reflection ( vipacittahnii ), those who must be led (neyyo, e-duc-ated, 
the YakkhI of S 1.11-12 being a good example), and those whose ulti¬ 
mate is the text itself” ( padaparamo , the stupid king of J vi.131 being 
an example). Padaparamo is then either “literalist” (as condemned in 
S mi, where indeed “the letter kills”), or in accordance with PugA, 
the man who cares more about the art of the text than its meaning, and 
may be compared to the man who in terms of our first citation (J vi.366) 
might be more particular about the taste of the food than about its nour¬ 
ishing essence. Our immediate concern is with the disparaged vyanjana- 
padam of PugA, where the reference is plainly to artistry considered as 
the final end of oratory: cf. A 1.72, m.107 and S 11.267, where a suttanta 
characterized by fine sounds rather than fine thoughts is called citta/(/{hara 
(cf. the later citrakfivyaj , and S 1.38, where the syllables themselves 
(atyhardni, thought of as sounds rather than as written letters) 07 are 
called the “sauce or flavor” ( vyanjana)^ of poetry. In S 11.267 ar “d parallel 
passages, “the sermons ( suttanta ) preached by the Tathagata are pro¬ 
found ( gambhlra ), of profound moral significance ( gambhiratthd ), deal¬ 
ing with the other world ( lokuttaraj and bound up with the emptiness of 
this world ( suhnata-patisamyutta) ; but a time will come when they will 
no longer be regarded as things to be studied and mastered; on the con¬ 
trary, those sermons that are made by poets in the poetical style (te sut- 
tantd \avi\atd \dveyydj, with embellished sounds (cittakkjiara), overlaid 
with ornament ( citta-vyahjana ), and spoken by profane auditors ( bdhi- 
ra\a sdva\a-bhdsitd), will be considered worthy of study, and the others 
will disappear.” 

9 ‘ The reader will not forget that a\sara is primarily a sounded syllable, and 
only secondarily a written sign. Indian rhetoric, at least in its beginnings, has 
therefore more to do with oratory than with “literature” as we think of it. 

This is the Dictionary meaning, s.v. akkhara. 


318 


319 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

We see nothing in all this that is particularly monastic or puritanical, 
but only something serious; the repudiation of an art for art’s sake and 
of sophistry and of aestheticism. The Buddhist is the same as the Platonic, 
Aristotelian, and Scholastic view of rhetoric as the art of giving effective¬ 
ness to truth. As Augustine says, “I am not now speaking of how to 
please: I am speaking of how they are to be taught who desire instruc¬ 
tion.” Cittakhhara, citta-vyanjana are “sophistic” in the sense of Augus¬ 
tine’s definition, “A speech seeking verbal ornament beyond the bounds 
of responsibility to its burden ( gravitas) is called ‘sophistic.’ ” In the same 
way, “No matter in what connection, when Buddhas preach the Law, 
it is upon the Law that they lay weight ( garavam , etymologically and 
semantically the equivalent of Augustine’s gravitas) ; they speak as though 
bringing down from heaven the Aerial River” {akasagangam otarento 
viya, DhA 111.360)." That the preaching of the Law “pierces the skin 
and flesh 100 and penetrates to the marrow of the bones” (DhA 111.361) 
recalls St. Paul’s “the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper 
than any two-edged sword, piercing even unto . . .” (Heb. 4:12), 101 and 
St. Augustine’s “O Eloquence, so much the more terrible as it is so un¬ 
adorned; and as it is so genuine, so much the more powerful: O truly 
an axe hewing the rock!” 102 

On the other hand, it must not be inferred that the art of oratory, 
rightly used, is in any way disparaged. We find, for example, Maha 
Kaccana praised as the “chief of those who dissect at length the meaning 
of what has been briefly said ( samkhittena bhasitassa vittharena attham 
vibhajantdnam aggam),” Kumara Kassapa as the “chief of flowery speak¬ 
ers ( citta-\athikanam aggam ),” 103 and Maha Kotthita as the “chief of the 

" It seems to have been overlooked that this is an allusion to the “Descent of the 
Ganges,” well known in the Epic. The simile is far more tremendous to Indian 
than it could be to European ears: "speaking as if with the roar of Niagara” would 
be a weak analogy. 

100 The full sequence frequendy occurs: chant, camma, mamsa, naharu, atthi, 
atthi-mihju, “scarf-skin, skin, flesh, sinews, bones and marrow” {chavi is generally 
“complexion,” “bloom,” and can only be rendered here by “scarf-skin”). At Vin 
1.83, the whole formula is applied to the love of a son. 

101 The completion of the text, “piercing even unto the dividing asunder of 
soul and spirit” corresponds exactly to the often repeated theme of Buddhist teach¬ 
ing, na me so atta, sabbe dhammd anatta, Surinam idam attena, etc., and makes 
the parallel particularly poignant. 

102 The quotations from Augustine are from the De doctrina Christiana , 4. Cf. 
the fuller references in Art Bulletin, XX (March 1938), 72-77. 

103 At Mil 1, Nagasena’s discourse ( \athd ) is described as “adorned with parables 
and types Icitra opammehi nay chi ca)." 


SOME PALI WORDS 

Masters of the Four Meanings” ( patisambhidappattanam aggam)” A 
1.23-24. We find the Buddha praising an Almsman who “in his doctrinal 
discourse was demonstrating to the brethren, making the Law acceptable 
to them, setting them afire, gladdening them with urbane words, well 
enunciated without hoarseness, with exposition of the meaning, pertinent 
and unbiased” (S 11.280, cf. 1.189). The same expressions recur in D 11.109, 
where the Buddha explains that he adapts his teaching to his audience 
(“Whatever may be their sort, I make myself of the like sort, whatever 
their language, I speak that language”—i.e., becoming as we are that we 
may be as he is), “But they knew me not when I spoke, and would ask 
‘Who may this be that speaks thus, a man or a god?’ Whereupon I 
demonstrated the Law, made it acceptable to them, set them on fire 
(samuttejetva ), gladdened them, etc.” The argument is always ad homi- 
nem: for as Lan\avatara Sutra Ji.122 expresses it, “Whatever is not 
adapted to such and such persons as are to be taught, cannot be called 
teaching.” It is thus that “He preaches the lovely Law, with its moral and 
spiritual meanings ( dhammam deseti... kalydnam sattham savyanjanam, 
D 1.250). 

It will not be inappropriate to conclude the present article with: “At the 
close of my discourse I compose and settle my heart, focus and synthesize 
it ( cittam santhapemi sannisademi ekpdikaromi samddahdmi), in accord¬ 
ance with the former fashion of my interior synthesis ( samddhi ’), in 
which assuredly I abide when and whenever I will ( nicca\appam nicca- 
kappam viharami, M 1.249).” 

The net result of the foregoing discussion, and that of rasa, is to indi¬ 
cate that Pali vyanjana and rasa are often very nearly the same thing, a 
quality that may be regarded either as the most intimate flavor or color 
of the text, or from another point of view as an overlay of ornament, 
and thus “too much of a good thing.” In any case, vyanjana is never “syl¬ 
lable,” as it has been rendered at A 11.182. 

sa\ha and sd\ha. Like the Skr. equivalent sd\ha, the word occurs in 
Pali in the primary sense of “branch” (of a tree), but also in Sn 688 as 
rib” of an umbrella, and it is probable that this was also a meaning of 
the word in Skr. The word in this sense is of interest because of the coin¬ 
cident (axial) symbolism of “umbrella” and “tree”; the ribs surround the 
handle ( danda, also “stem of a tree’ ’) “as branches surround the trunk 
of the tree ( vr\sasya s\andhah parita iva sdk\hah, AV x.7.38),” forming 
a ‘circle ( mandala ).” Cf. pindi\a. 


320 


321 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

sankha. The primary meaning is “number,” hence sankham gam, to 
“be reckoned” or “accounted,” as in Ud 55, “they are accounted (sanp- 
ham gacchanti) ‘Sons of the Buddha’ ” ( sa\yaputtiya ) - 10i In this sense 
sankham gam is to “be called,” to “get a name.” It follows that in a more 
general way to be “numbered” is to exist in the quantitative and dimen¬ 
sioned (nimitta) universe, sankha from this point of view being equiva¬ 
lent to matra (“measure,” and etymologically “matter,” that which is 
known in terms of “form and phenomenon,” nama-rupa), in which sense 
sanpha is almost the exact equivalent of “number” as characteristic of 
“species” in Scholastic philosophy. To come into being, take birth, and be 
“named” is a good from some points of view, but never a final good, 
and therefore from another point of view, that of the man who is seeking 
to become “no one” (apimeana), an evil. So in Sn 1074 it is said of the 
Muni, sped like a flame blown out by the wind, and liberated from name 
and body ( ndmapayd — ndmarupaya), that he “gets him home ( attham 
paleti), he does not get a number (na upeti sankham),'" 0 * i.e., he is not 
cognizable: in the same way it is said of the Arhat, who is past finding 
out by gods or men in heaven or on earth, that he “has done with num¬ 
ber ( pahasi sankham, S 1.12)”; it is just such as these of whom Brahma 
says, in fact, that he “cannot give any true accounting (sanphdtum no pi 
sappomi, etc., D 11.218)”; and conversely in S 111.35, “Whatever it be that 
a man takes to bed, it is by that that he gets his number” ( yam ... anuseti 
tena sankham gacchati), i.e., his unaccomplished purpose determines his 
birth 100 (as in MU n.6d). 

104 It is in this sense that, in RV ix.61.7, Soma is "reckoned with the Adityas 
(sam adityebhir aphyata) 

105 Na upeti sanpham, like MU vi.20 niratma\atvat asanphyah, “out of count, 
because without a self': Sn 1076, na pamanam atthi. S iv.376-77 is explicit: the 
Tathagata is “free of any reckoning" ( samphaya-vimutto) in terms of any one 
of die five phandhas, rupa, vedana, etc., i.e., has no psycho-physical “number.” 
“Number, if taken as a species of quantity, denotes an accident added to being” 
(Sum. Theol. 1.30.3): “quia designatio individui respectu speciei cst per materiam 
determinatum dimensionibus” (De ente et essentia m.i), i.e., inasmuch as all things 
are nimittani, “measured out.” 

It will be seen from what follows that like all other negative symbols, to be 
without number (the same as to be nameless) can have either a “good” or a 
“bad” meaning; asanphyah corresponding to amatra, and ajata, etc. In the same 
way there is an asat (nonbeing) that is “naughty” (because of privation of being) 
and an asat (nonbeing) that is also a plenum ( purnam ) because not limited by 
a being in any way (iti-bliava). 

106 The idiom corresponds to that of “as one makes one’s bed, so must one lie 
upon it.” The corresponding word anusaya denotes the condition in which a 
man is naturally found, and from which he is summoned to arouse himself; and 
it is no doubt in the same sense that the New Testament “Arise, take up thy 

322 



SOME PALI WORDS 

There is, however, another use of the word, or rather of the correspond¬ 
ing verb, of no less interest, occurring in Sn 351, “To do what one will 
does not pertain to the common herd; it pertains to Tathagatas to do 
what is correct,” or more literally, “calculated” (na pamaparo 107 hi puthuj- 
jananam, sankheyyakaro ca tathagatanam). Sanpheyya here can only be 
understood as equivalent to prameya in the sense of “correct” (an absolute 
pramana is, in fact, attributed to the Buddha; all that the Buddha says 
or does is said or done well). The converse of the text is also, of course, 
implied: what is done by the untaught many-folk is informal, apatirupa, 
asanpheyya , 108 the Buddhas do what they will. In the same sense, sanpha 
must mean what is “right,” one might even say “mathematically right” 
since it is precisely a question of “number,” in Dh 267, where “he who has 
ousted good and evil, the walker-with-Brahma, whose course in the world 
is ‘calculated (sanphaya lope carati),' he is rightly called an ‘Almsman’ ”: 
or conversely, “wrong” when “calculating ( sanphaya )” implies “with ul¬ 
terior motives,” as in A 11.143. The use of sanpheyya and sanphaya in 
the good sense corresponds to that of sanphydnam and asank.hyd.nam in 
JB 11.69 ar) d 73, where in opposing rites what is done by Prajapati in good 
form overcomes what is done by Death informally, and what is “in order 
(samphyanam )” being immortal ( amrtam ) and what is “inordinate 
(1 asamphyanam )” mortal (martyam)— a distinction corresponding to that 
of satyam from anrtam. It is in the same sense that in an unidentified 
sutra (A. F. Rudolf Hoernle, MS. Remains of Buddhist Literature from 
E. Turkestan, Oxford, 1916, I, 98-100), samphyam gacchati is “reaches 
fullness.” 


samala. This word is cited for the sake of the light it throws on Skr. 
samulya, samula. The Dictionary omits to note the immediate Skr. equiva¬ 
lent, samala, but gives the meaning, “impure, contaminated, Vin 1.5.” We 
have also sandhi-samala-sampatina, with the general sense of “garbage 


bed, and walk” should be understood. Sankha is, in fact, virtually synonymous 
with anusaya, Skr. anusaya, as “bed,” karmic consequence, and finally “repentance” 
inasmuch as it is from this predestined condition that one uprises. Similarly asaya : 
see parmdsaya as used by Patafijali, Yogasutra [The Yoga-System of Patahjali, 
tr. J. H. Woods, Cambridge, Mass., 1914, HOS 17] n.i2ff. (rendered by Woods 
atent deposit of karma”), and the discussion by Jaideva Singh in Review of 
Philosophy and Religion, VIII (1939). 

A’a kamakaro, as in CU vm.1.6, ihatmanam ananuvidya . . . sarvesu lopesv 
akarnacaro bhavanti, “not having known the Spiritual-Self in this life, do not 
become ‘Movers-at-will’ in any world.” 

. J- n _ ver y many contexts, of course, asampheyya is simply “incalculable,” i.e., of 
definite (not infinite, however) extent: for example, where asamkheyya = pappa. 


323 



MAJOR ESSAYS 


heap” in S 11.270, M 1.334 ar >d D 11.160; and dhammo asuddho samalehi 
cintito, “an unclean doctrine conceived by foul minds” in Vin 1.5, S 1.137. 
It seems impossible to doubt that in RV x.85.29 samulyam is not (as com¬ 
monly rendered) “woolen,” but “filthy,” 109 the reference being in fact 
to the “snake-skin” that Krtya must be thought of as shedding when she 
“has gotten feet” ( padvati bhutvT), all in accordance with the well-known 
formula for procession from ophidian potentiality to human actuality; 
or that in JUB 1.38.4, sdmula-parnabhydm is not, as rendered by Oertel, 
“with a woolen shirt(?) and a leaf,” but “(clad) in dirty leaves.” 

samudda (as adhivacanam of nibbana). In Buddhism, as in Brahman¬ 
ism, the Pilgrim’s “Way” considered as a voyage ( ydna , in this sense) 
may be related in three different ways to the flowing river of life and 
death. The journey is either upstream to the waters’ source; or over the 
waters to a farther shore; or downstream to the sea. This use of sym¬ 
bolisms which are contrary in their literal but unanimous in their spiritual 
sense very well illustrates the nature of metaphysics itself, which is not, 
like a “philosophy,” systematic, but is always consistent. All that we have 
to be careful of here (as in any work of art) is to make use of our sym¬ 
bols consistently: it is only, for example, in the second case, that of “cross¬ 
ing over,” that the symbol of the “bridge” can also be employed; it would 
be incongruous to speak of the “bridge” in connection with a going up 
or down stream. 110 

In the first case, the symbol is of a procedure against the stream, and 
the Buddhist Wayfarer is accordingly referred to as an “Upstreamer” 
(patisoto or uddhantsoto, with anusotagami, “drifting with the current” 
as opposite). Without going into the history of the underlying thought 
at great length, we may observe that in RV x.28.4, pratlpam sdpam nadyo 
vahanti (“the rivers carry the foam against the current”), is already a 
paradox to be explained. Whatever this may mean, the text of TS vn.5.7.4, 
“The heavenly world is counter-current ( pratikfdam) hence” is explicit: 
and it is precisely in this sense that in PB xxv.10.12-16 the Sacrificers, 
going “counter-current” or “upstream” ( pratlpam ) along the whole course 
of the Sarasvati (the River of Life), reach the heavenly world (it is clear 

109 The Vedic and Brahmana associations of “wool” arc regularly with purity 
and purification. Sayana appears to be perfectly correct in his gloss samulyam = 
samulam = sariram malam, sariravacchannasya malasya dhara\am vastram, “foul 
body, or garment reeking of the foulness of the body that was covered by it.” 

110 Or only if we see in the river itself the “bridge” and Axis Mundi. 


324 


SOME PALI WORDS 


from verse 11 that the Sarasvati is coincident with the Axis Mundi): 111 
it is impossible to reach the goal “downstream.” The symbolism here 
is one of return to the river’s source, the Fons Vitae, Varuna’s abiding 
place sindhunam upodaye (RV vm.41.2), the “Well of Ploney in Visnu’s 
highest place ( visnoh pade parame madhva utsah, RV 1.154.5),” t ^ le Peren¬ 
nial Spring of Plotinus, Enneads ni.8.10, etc. Among the Christian paral¬ 
lels may be noted Ruysbroeck, “a perpetual striving after the unattainable 

_this is ‘striving against the stream’ ” (Sparkling Stone, ch. 9; cf. JB 1.85, 

pratikfdam udyan . . . samastyd ); Dante, Purgatorio 1.40, “Against the 
dark stream fled the eternal prison”; Blake, “Jesus died ... he strove 
against the current of this wheel.” 

More familiar is the symbolism of the “Farther Shore,” to be reached 
in various ways, whether by raft, ship, bridge, or ford, and in connection 
with which we meet with a great variety of terms such as tara, tarana, 
tdrd, tiran, tirtha , 1 ' 2 trdtr, etc., deriving from tr, to “cross over.” In this 
case the Waters to be crossed arc specifically the River of Death (M 1.225- 
27; DhA 11.275, etc.), or as more fully explained in S iv.174-75, the Great 
Flood of Water ( maha udakannavo) is the flood of will, birth, opinion, 
and ignorance ( \drna , bhava, ditthi , avijja ), the Hither Shore represents 
“embodiment” (ra^aya), the Farther Shore nibbana, and the “Brahman 
who has crossed and reached the farther side and stands on solid ground 
(tinno paramgato thale titthati brdhmano )” is the Arahat. The formula 
of crossing over to a farther shore or haven of safety occurs so repeatedly 
in Buddhist and Brahmanical contexts alike that no further examples need 
be cited here. The metaphor of the saving “ship” (Pali and Skr. ndva) is 
preserved in our “nave” (of a church). 118 

111 Coincident, then, with the Shaft of Light, the Bolt and Sacrificial Post that 
strikes downwards from the zenith to the nadir of the universe, and which must 
be reversed by those who would ascend. The digging out and setting upright of 
the Post in AB 11.1-2, etc., has the same spiritual significance as the words “counter- 
current,” etc., discussed above; cf. Coomaraswamy, “Inverted Tree” [in Vol. 1 of 
this edition; the symbols discussed in this entry are also treated in “The Sea,” Vol. I 
of this edition. —ed.]. 

112 Tirtha is “crossing place”; tirthakara virtually synonymous with “pontifex,” 
pondS.” Tara is “Saviorcss,” and also “star,” cf. the Virgin as Stella Maris. Trdtr is 

ferryman or savior. Tarana is crossing; hence avatarana, “crossing back,” i.e., the 
descent” of a Savior. Tiran is “crossing” in S v.24 (where we have “few are they of 
mortal men who have reached the Farther Shore”). Our “term,” Lat. terminus, is 
cognate. 

113 As in the well-known Parable of the Raft (M 1.135), the crossing over is 
here by means of a raft, for which there is no more use when the Farther Shore 
Has been reached, and as in Revelation 21:1, “there was no more sea.” The 


325 


MAJOR ESSAYS 

Less familiar, though by no means rare in Buddhist contexts, is the 
metaphor of a gliding downstream to a nibbana represented by the Sea, 
not here as a mass of waters to be crossed, but itself the last end. This 
value of samudda (Sea) is overlooked in the PTS Dictionary. In S v.39-40, 
we find “just as rivers lean, tend, and gravitate towards the sea ( samudda - 
ninnd, -pond, -pabbhdrd )," 114 just so the Almsman who cultivates the 
Aryan Eightfold Path “leans, tends, and gravitates towards Nibbana”; 
similarly S v.134. In the same way in the parable of the Log, S iv.179-80, 
floating downstream on the Ganges is gliding towards Nibbana; the dan¬ 
gers are of stranding on either shore, being taken by those (men or gods) 
who dwell on these shores," 5 stranding on a shoal (thale ussidissati ), 116 
sinking in mid-stream ( majjhe samsidissati) , m or of rotting within, and 
if all these dangers are avoided, then “shall ye lean, tend, and gravitate 
towards Nibbana.” It is clear that the stream is here no longer Mara’s, as 
in M 1.226 ( mdrassa sota), but rather the Flood of Merit ( punnassa dhard) 
of A 11.56. In S v.47, cf. 63, young followers of the Eightfold Path are 
compared to the young Nagas (snakes, or rather eels; see ndga) born 
in the Himalayas and who, as they grow bigger, make their way down 
to the Sea and there attain their full dimensions, the Commentary equat¬ 
ing ndga with yogdvacara and samudda with nibbana. In DhA 111.230 ff„ 


Waters to be crossed are represented in the Gospels (John 6, etc.) by the Sea of 
Galilee; cf. W. Norman Brown, Walking on the Water, London, 1928, pp. 20 ff. 

114 The words -ninnd, -pond, -pabbhdrd or their equivalents, mutatis mutandis, 
occur elsewhere, notably in the well-known metaphor of the rafters that converge 
towards and rest in the roof-plate of the dome, and it is thus that the powers of 
the soul converge towards and come to rest in samadhi (SA vm.8, M 1.322-23, 
Mil 38, etc.). 

115 The interpretation ( adhivacanam ) of “this shore” is ajjhattikhnam dyatandnam 
and of “that shore” bdhirdnam dyatandnam, i.e., these internal (microcosmic) and 
those external (macrocosmic) conditions. This provides us with good evidence 
for what can be inferred in many other contexts, viz. that ajjhattikam . . . bdhiram 
correspond to adhyatmam . . . adhidevatam as, c.g., in JUB 111.33, where the two 
words have precisely the implication of “subjective” and “objective” that is funda¬ 
mental to Pali ajjhattikam and bdhiram, as in M 1.421, where the five elements as 
they are within you (i.e., microcosmically) are contrasted with the same as they 
are outside you (i.e., macrocosmically). 

116 Observe that thale (“aground”) here has the exactly opposite spiritual mean¬ 
ing of thale (“safe ashore”) in S iv.174—75 cited above. In this connection cf. 
Rene Guenon, “Du Double Sens des symboles,” in Etudes traditionelles, XLII 
( 1937 )- 

117 "Drowning in the nether waters”; here the symbolism coincides with that 
of crossing over, and if one falls from the ship or bridge or if one sinks while “walk¬ 
ing on the water,” he may be drowned. 

326 


SOME PALI WORDS 

the significance of the downstream voyage, here in a boat, is the same, but 
the value of ndga is reversed; 118 because of a sin by which the voyage is 
interrupted the novice is reborn as the Naga Erakapatta. 

Finally, the foregoing texts in which samudda — nibbana, and even 
more literally Ud 55, “Just as rivers lose their former names and clan 
names ( purimdni nama-gottdni ) 119 when they reach the sea, and it is 
accounted only ‘The Great Sea,’ ” correspond exactly to the better known 
“Just as these flowing rivers that tend